KINGSPORT — In light of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Kingsport’s parks and recreation department is blowing the whistle on basketball within the city.

On Monday, department employees removed the rims and nets from every outdoor basketball goal owned by the city. Andy True, assistant superintendent at Kingsport City Schools, said the same thing would be taking place at all school properties this week.

The reason for doing this, explains City Manager Chris McCartt, is because people are not complying with the social distancing recommendations.

“We’re trying to keep the parks open and clean while encouraging social distancing, but the fact we continue to have people using the outdoor courts and coming into contact with each other ... from a public health standpoint, we need to limit that activity,” McCartt said.

Removing the rims and nets from the basketball goals is not something the city wanted to do, but after hearing the latest communications from the CDC and the National Recreation and Parks Association, McCartt said, it was determined it be in the best interest of the citizens.

City parks and playgrounds are still open, though, and McCartt said the city is asking people to practice social distancing, staying away by at least six feet.

“We want to encourage people to go to Bays Mountain, the Greenbelt and other city parks but you’ve got to practice safe social distancing,” McCartt said.

Jane Henry, a local real estate agent, snapped a photo on Sunday of a group of teenagers playing basketball at the park in Preston Forest. While she understands that teenagers will be teenagers, she was still disappointed and frustrated by what she saw.

“I wasn’t angry with them, because they’re kids and human nature says we want to be together,” Henry said. “It was just frustrating to see anything happening that might make more people sick and extend this shutdown any longer.”

Henry also has a different perspective than many people living during this worldwide pandemic — she has two pregnant daughters-in-law, both due in May. One lives in Brooklyn and the other in Atlanta — both places hit hard during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Some people think because we’re in a smaller place, we’re immune and I don’t think we are,” Henry said.