People Watching

"I just want to go through Central Park and watch folks passing by. Spend the whole day watching people. I miss that." — Former President Barack Obama


Oh, the joys of people-watching. As a long-time connoisseur, I feel for former President Barack Obama in the quote here. Obviously, like just about anyone who is very famous, he can never just go sit in a park and anonymously watch people walking by again.

But what about the rest of us? While we often talk about active recreation in these pages—and cover many of the ways that recreation, sports and fitness facilities encourage people to do things, from getting more exercise to playing on a sports team, from taking a swim lesson to having fun on the playground—almost every bit of that action has a flipside.

So let's take a minute to celebrate spectators, formal and informal. Whether it's sitting in the bleachers for a ballgame, or sitting on a park bench to watch the dogs at play in the park, most of us enjoy just sitting back and taking in the action at least every once in a while.

How often is this taken into account when parks, rec centers and other facilities are designed? Obviously, sports venues put the spectator experience at the top of their to-do lists, but most every facility could stand to take a step back and think about how well they accommodate those of us who either need a break, or who simply like to stop and take in the action.

Over this summer, I've enjoyed watching people from my seat in the stands at a minor league ballgame. (Don't worry. I watched the game, too!) I've found a park bench where I could sit and watch kayakers and paddleboarders out on the water. And I've parked myself in a small section of bleachers next to a skatepark to watch some kids learn new tricks. It was all good.

Where's your favorite spot to people-watch?

Have Fun Out There!

Emily Tipping
Editorial Director,
Recreation Management

[email protected]