Reelin' in the Years

Any Steely Dan fans? Possibly one of the best starts to a second side ever, isn't it? And if you don't know what I'm talking about, well … I'm not the sort who minds aging myself. It's one of those songs that connects to a specific moment, for me. Specifically, driving across empty Kansas in the middle of the night in 1992, desperately searching for a radio station that was playing something other than … what does one call a radio televangelist, anyway? Everyone else in the car was asleep, and I had a hallelujah moment when I found a station playing classic rock. If only radio had a repeat button, I'd have listened to that track all the way through Missouri.

In truth, this song popped into my head a week or so ago, as I was thinking about how very much has happened over the past year and was amazed we're not all reeling from the punches. It triggered the (completely unrelated) earworm as I thought, "How are we not reeling?" The pandemic and political unrest, the summer protests over racial justice, record-setting heat and fires in California, in Europe, in Australia and elsewhere, and, as was announced about a week ago, the end of the hottest decade on record as 2020 tied for the hottest year ever, globally.

And that's just the short list that reels off the top of my head. But I look around, and we're not reeling.

I never would have imagined how much change is encompassed within this industry of recreation, sports and fitness when I first began at Recreation Management back in 2006. Reporting on facility design, I was struck by how many were dedicated to improving their environmental footprint. Reporting on programming, I saw an impressive dedication to wellness (physical and mental) and inclusion. If anything is a unifying force that brings people together in community, it's our parks, our recreational opportunities, our friendly competition on sports arenas, fields and venues everywhere.

That's why, despite the vastness of the challenges that seem to keep stacking up ahead of us, I have a lot of faith in you, readers. This industry is certainly not the only place where change takes place, and it's surely not the first industry most people think of when they think of progress and forward movement on big issues. And yet, steady progress happens here, from increasingly inclusive playground designs to programs that aim to bring learn-to-swim to the underserved (and thus, more likely to drown) among us, from greener grounds maintenance practices to programs that advance health and well-being.

So, while I've no doubt that 2021 will continue to deliver the kinds of news that bring the word "reeling" to mind (we are still in the midst of a pandemic, after all, and that's just the tip of the iceberg), I also have no doubt that you'll continue to find innovative ways to move forward and address the big challenges.

To help, we'll continue to bring you the best ideas and innovations we can find out there, and report on news and best practices from across the industry. In this issue, we've got our annual Aquatic Trends Report, which provides a snapshot (including some information on the impact of COVID-19) of that portion of the industry, and we also take a closer look at dog park planning, sports field basics and fitness industry trends.

Grab hold of your gumption, and let's get started.

Be well,

Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management

[email protected]