Are Basketball Hoops Allowed on Sidewalks?

Basketball has been a popular sport for a little over a century, partially because it requires minimal equipment. All you need is a basketball and a hoop. However, what this sport does require is a decent amount of space that many don’t have in their driveways. So, the next best choice for the kids on the block would be the sidewalks. 

According to most city ordinances, basketball hoops are not permitted to be positioned on the sidewalk or the street. This is to prevent potential damage to passing vehicles and vehicular accidents. Restricting basketball hoops on the sidewalk ensures towns don’t encourage children to play in the street where they are at significant risk of injury. 

Read on to learn more about why basketball hoops aren’t allowed on the sidewalks, arguments surrounding this ordinance, and ways you and your children can legally obtain a space for this popular game when you can’t play at home. 

Can You Put a Basketball Hoop on the Sidewalk?

Although this is a decision that can vary depending on the town you live in, it is widely accepted in most towns that basketball hoops are not permitted on the sidewalk or the street. Some states will even declare it illegal regardless of your town. 

Several reasons surround this decision that we will discuss in detail. Coming up next, we’ll do just that. 

Discourage Children Playing in the Streets

There are typically two overarching reasons why basketball hoops are not permitted on sidewalks, and the protection of adolescent lives often takes priority.

The reasoning behind this decision is that towns hope to discourage kids from playing in the streets over on their own property or in public areas, such as community centers. Although this can profoundly affect children socially, the town is ultimately putting their lives first.

A shocking number of children are injured or killed by vehicles every year. According to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, “in 2004, road traffic crashes resulted in more than 260 000 deaths in children and youth aged 0–19 years. Children accounted for 21% of all road traffic injury-related deaths worldwide.”

Towns hope to reduce these numbers and spare young lives by limiting the amount of time children are in the streets on a daily basis. As a result, some of these ordinances have been in place for decades and apply to other street sports, not just basketball. 

Luckily, precautions such as this, in addition to vehicular improvements, have caused a profound decrease in the rate of motor vehicle crash deaths.

Based on analysis of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). “The rate of motor vehicle crash deaths per million children younger than 13 has decreased 79 percent overall since 1975,” with a 92% decline in pedestrian cases. 

Although this ordinance can severely limit potential social opportunities for kids, the statistics prove that at least more children survive to have the opportunities elsewhere. 

Protection of Vehicular Property

The second most significant reason behind the ordinance preventing basketball hoops in the street is their potential to damage vehicles and injure their drivers. Although there are no statistics of how many basketballs damage cars annually, there is no doubt they have the potential to do some serious damage and have cost more than one driver a hefty cost in repairs. 

If thrown or bounced with enough speed and momentum or dropped from a significant enough height, the average basketball could easily dent or scratch a car’s exterior despite the fact that most are made from aluminum and steel. 

More often than not, street basketball players will damage cars parked along the street rather than those driving past. This could cause significant tensions in the neighborhood if a fellow street residence notices their car is getting consistently damaged by the local NBA.

Another cause of vehicular damage is when someone is merely driving by, and the basketball hits their vehicle in a way that causes immediate exterior damage. 

An alternative scenario is if the sudden distraction causes them to swerve or inhibits their vision to the point that they inadvertently damage their own vehicle. The driver could easily hit a telephone pole, the curb, or other parked cars and damage their car as well as injuring themselves. 

Therefore, rather than risk property damages or the lives of street players and drivers, many towns will eliminate the issue at its root and prevent basketball hoops on the sidewalk. 

Keeping Neighborhood Peace

The last reason towns will apply this ordinance is in attempts to promote and maintain neighborhood peace and reduce unnecessary squabbles. 

Even if you have the smartest and safest kids playing basketball in the streets, there is a chance they will frustrate a member of the community. Common complaints include:

  • Obstruction of public spaces, meaning the sidewalk.
  • Property damage
  • Noise
  • Safety risks

Some neighbors will take their complaints as far as contacting the police over what they deem to be a neighborhood nuisance. Of course, the police have better things to do than play neighborhood peacekeeper over a piece of sports equipment. Therefore, to mitigate these incidences, most towns opt for restricting the hoops to private property. 

Community Reactions to this Ordinance

Many members of most communities will support town ordinances to keep basketball hoops on private property. For the most part, everyone agrees that it is safer for their children, community members, and property to limit unnecessary street activities. 

However, there is a significant number of people that oppose this ordinance because they perceive it as socially damaging and unnecessary.

Participating in sports is an exceptional way for kids to socialize, use problem-solving skills amongst themselves, and learn how to channel their emotions into something constructive and competitive. Another benefit of sports is that it keeps kids busy and away from potentially dangerous influences within their neighborhood or other social groups. 

Many parents deem it essential to their kid’s social skills and safety for them to have the ability to play sports in the street right outside their home. It gives the kids enough space to feel free from their parents’ influence while they are close enough to be loosely supervised by the neighborhood adults. 

By eliminating this activity, many kids will become reclusive or turn to other, potentially more dangerous, activities to fill their time. It also means they will search for spaces to play basketball away from home where they lack any sort of supervision or hope of intervention if the game got out of hand or an emergency occurred. 

How to Find a Space for Basketball Hoop

The fact that basketball hoops aren’t permitted on the sidewalks or in the streets shouldn’t stop you from playing the game. However, it might seem hard to find alternatives if you don’t have a large enough driveway to accommodate the sport.

Here are some ways you can keep the game going without being in the street:

  • Fight for your right: if the restriction of basketball hoops is on the town level, you can have members of the community sign a petition to have the ordinance removed. 
  • Limit the game: you might not have space for a full-court game of basketball, but you could potentially place half-court games or alternative skill games, like HORSE, to help you practice and still have fun. 
  • DIY court: If you have plenty of yard space at home or live on a cul-de-sac with an open public lawn in the neighborhood, try building a court here. Concrete is one of the cheaper options in this case. You could potentially convince your neighbors to split the cost with you if you’re confident their kids will be using the court as well.  
  • Petition for a court: since the town is inhibiting people’s ability to play in the street, residents of one or numerous neighborhoods could petition the town to build public courts for safe play.
  • Find a public space: there are countless public spaces where both kids and adults can play basketball safely. Some examples are gyms, community centers, and parks. 

Final Thoughts

Although basketball hoops aren’t permitted on sidewalks or in the streets, make sure if your kids or family members have a passion for this sport that you find was to support them. If you notice your kids enjoy playing the game in the street, see if you can convince them to try out for the school team. 

If the neighborhood adults don’t want to be robbed of the sport, maybe create an adult team amongst yourselves and join a rec league. Don’t let this minor inconvenience get in the way of your passion for a fulfilling sport. 

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