By Alvin Halimwidjaya
When I have some free time to myself on campus, you can most likely find me heading to the Lombardi Fieldhouse for a couple of hours of pickup basketball. It is my only consistent form of exercise, and running around and shooting hoops with a bunch of guys I barely know has been a defining experience of mine at Fordham. If going to the gym and working out isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you can often find students at the Lombardi Fieldhouse running around the track or using the rowing machines.
At the center of the Fieldhouse are four basketball courts, free for any students to use. However, Fordham has complicated matters for students by constantly scheduling other events without much notice.
I understand that the Fieldhouse is not just a facility for non-athletes to play basketball, and it is perfectly understandable when track meets are held on the weekends or when Fordham Prep kids use the rowing machines.
However, basketball courts at the Fieldhouse are constantly being used for events not related to basketball. Badminton and dance practices already complicate matters; to have the baseball team cordon off three courts in January to hold a practice or a youth clinic is frankly ridiculous. Other times, students will walk down to find alumni giving private lessons to kids in either basketball or soccer. I’m a fan of kids learning sports at a young age, but I’m less of a fan when I’m trying to get in some exercise after a couple of midterms and, you know, I’m being held up by three eight-year-olds after paying full tuition for access to these facilities.
The difficult truth is that I understand student organizations like the dance team and the badminton team have nowhere else to practice.
I’m a little less sympathetic when it comes to the baseball team, since they don’t need batting practice on a basketball court when there are two baseball fields on campus, but I get that it’s not fun practicing in cold weather. I’m way more upset at Fordham, because they’re simply not accommodating students’ needs. I doubt that other students in recent memory were okay with indoor sports facilities being co-opted by activities that weren’t meant for a basketball court, or by kids a third of their age.
In all fairness, events like youth clinics and high school tournaments held in the Fieldhouse, though incredibly inconvenient for students at times, act as an additional source of income, and are therefore partially necessary. That’s why Fordham needs to start thinking about options to expand their accommodations for students, because a couple more basketball or badminton courts, though it doesn’t seem like much, would be a first step towards more access and availability for Fordham students to the facilities the university brags about.
I admit that even minor renovation and expansion, let alone a new facility, would be a significant project for Fordham to start. However, it’s important that Fordham makes a point of providing these facilities to the students interested in using them, even if they don’t represent Fordham’s athletic community. Even if that seems like too big of a step to take, the very least Fordham could do is keep its students updated on when we can use its facilities. On its website, Fordham gives standard hours of operation from 6 a.m. to midnight for the Fieldhouse, when in reality, its availability is much more complicated. Upon arriving at the Lombardi Center, students can find a few pages of paper that reveal the plethora of activities and practices scheduled for the day, subsequently throwing a regular student’s plans into chaos.
It’s an admittedly significant step to build new facilities; it shouldn’t be difficult to post an accurate online schedule that gives students an idea of when they can use the basketball courts at the Fieldhouse. At the end of the day, Fordham University has more pertinent issues to deal with, and whether a bunch of students get to play pickup basketball or not is decidedly far from their most pressing concern. All I’m saying is that regular students, club teams and even varsity teams shouldn’t be crammed into one wing built in 1976.
Fordham needs to start thinking of expanding their facilities, or at the very least, update students on the facility’s availability in a way that doesn’t involve people trekking to McGinley and trudging back after being ousted by several elementary school students.
The description of the Fieldhouse on Fordham’s website reads, “students are encouraged to take full advantage of the facilities and equipment offered at the McGinley Center.” It would be great if Fordham gave us the opportunity to do that.
Alvin Halimwidjaya, FCRH ’18, is a journalism major from Jakarta, Indonesia.