In the latest “best and worst” state list making its way around the Internet, West Virginia has been named the most “couch potatoey” (a.k.a. laziest) state by the Washington Post’s Wonkblog.
The authors used seven metrics, including exercise frequency, prevalence of fast food restaurants and number of La-Z-Boy purchases.
West Virginia topped the overall list, followed by Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas and Ohio, though in individual categories, West Virginia wasn’t always the worst.
The WaPo analysis was based on an original post by Ryan Nickum at the Estately blog. Nickum’s version ranked the Mountain State the third most “couch potatoey” after Ohio and Alabama.
Both analyses, though, show West Virginia as being the state that exercises the least and watches the most television of any other state.
You can read the Washington Post version here and the Estately version here.
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Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons license.
Each of these posts have come out in the last couple weeks, coincidentally at the same time Beckley’s common council (city council) is discussing an ordinance that would ban playing basketball in city streets, according to stories by the Register-Herald’s Wendy Holdren (who you ought to follow on Twitter for Beckley city council news).
The reason? People driving cars complained basketball players didn’t yield to them, or as Beckley’s city attorney said in May “the rights of drivers” weren’t being respected.
The attorney also called the basketball ban “a common sense ordinance.”
Then just this week, Beckley’s council approved the ordinance on first reading by a 5-2 vote, and a public hearing on the bill is scheduled for July 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Holdren’s story also pointed out that two other West Virginia cities ban games-in-streets – Charleston and Morgantown.
Sure enough, they do.
Charleston city law Sec. 102-17 covers “playing games in streets.” The law was passed in 1975. It reads:
“No person shall play the game of football, or any other game with a ball, in any of the streets in the city; nor shall it be lawful for any person to play the game of bandy, shindy, polo or any other game by which a ball, stone or other substance is struck or propelled by any stick, cane or other substance in any street in the city.”
(By the way, what is “bandy” and “shindy?”)
Morgantown has a similar law in its code, Sec. 311.02:
(a) No person shall use the public streets, highways, alleys, thoroughfares, roads or avenues of the Municipality for the purpose of engaging in or playing any games or athletic activities, including but not limited to, such activities as playing catch, baseball, football, skating, sledding and/or any activity related to the same.
(b) Any violation of subsection (a) hereof is hereby declared to be a public nuisance per se and may be summarily abated by any law enforcement officer.
I’m not sure if either law is enforced – I’ve seen WVU students playing catch on streets in Morgantown and I’ve seen plenty of kids out having a good time on city streets in Charleston – but there surely may have been incidents I’m not aware of.
Back in Beckley, Holdren’s latest story in today’s Register-Herald examines fears residents have that a basketball ban would contribute to higher crime and – take a guess – higher obesity rates.
So the question for Beckley – and really Charleston and Morgantown as well – should cities be encouraging or discouraging young people to go outside and play?
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On a better note, some of West Virginia’s cities are becoming bright spots in promoting physical health. Huntington continues to make it easier to bike and walk in the city, Charleston is promoting exercise and healthy activity (Power Walking 150 as an example) and Morgantown is West Virginia’s only bicycle-friendly community (as of 2014).