Rec Center Network
The Recreation Center Network is an institution in New Arindell and seeks to move many extracurricular activities away from schools while promoting community.
The first rec centers started in the old workers' village when the city was rebuilt. Many of the Rowen woodsmen hired to build the city brought along their families; and since hunting and farming were unnecessary, provision had to be made to give these people something to do. Facilities were hastily built and various activities put together. For each block of temporary barracks, a building was set aside and stocked with games. The workers brought to the valley to build the city, housed in the Rowen-made temporary village, were enamored by the prospect. While many were used to working remote construction jobs, they liked the idea of something to do during off-hours.
As the new city coalesced, the concept was kept. The idea of community and fellowship were well-liked by the new Alliance, and Conri liked the notion of everyone getting on with wholesome activities instead of drinking and gambling. As the first suburbs were constructed, space was always set aside for recreation centers. The city, planned from the first street, also made ample provision for such areas, and by the end of the first century N.D., an institution was born.
Layout and Amenities
Every rec center has a park with sports fields, a swimming pool, and a club house. Most feature a large auditorium and additional smaller rooms available for a wide variety of functions. Many include exercise equipment or are adjacent to privately owned gymnasiums. Sauna and hot tubs are also popular additions, given the cold climate. In the inner city, public bathhouses feature heavily.
Whenever possible, the pools are built indoors to provide year-round swimming. Many suburban centers feature both indoor and outdoor pools, including slides and dive boards. The opening of the outdoor pool is typically a celebrated event and features rituals like the group dive. These are mostly for children, but the whole thing is a popular party.
The sporting fields support a variety of youth and adult amateur sporting leagues. The culture in Arindell is such that spectator sports have very little appeal, but participation is popular. Most schools, especially the smaller suburban schools, do not have sports teams. Youths wishing to participate instead join rec center teams, which are often better coached, funded, and offer more exciting match-ups than the schools could manage. Schools in Arindell, by law, are forbidden from spending government money or tuition on extracurricular activities, meaning sports programs must be funded entirely by extra participation fees. The rec centers, meanwhile, get the money the schools would have received for such programs, as well as many additional revenue sources.
The three most popular sports in Arindell are swimming, soccer, and running. Many other sports do see play, but the city-wide leagues for the three major sports are the most common. The sporting culture in Arindell places an emphasis on participation over winning, and treats sporting events less as a competition and more as a social activity, with a focus on chivalrous, courteous, or honorable behavior. Joining a team is a chance to get out and meet new people.
In the third century N.D., dancing came into prominence as part of the community experience. Much like sport, it was about participation, not exhibition, with a focus on group and couple-based activities. The club houses had always featured dance floors, but a new emphasis was placed on providing lessons and holding organized events.
The Clubhouse is the central feature of every rec center. While the children are outside or at the pool, the adults are in the clubhouse, enjoying conversation and games. Some of this is fueled by nostalgia for the early decades of the city, when other forms of entertainment were unavailable. Much like dancing, the club house scene came into vogue following The Dork Age when cultural emphasis shifted towards in-person social interaction.
Especially in the suburban regions, "an evening at the clubhouse" is considered the standard after-dinner activity. The culture is centered around friendly, casual engagement, with rivalry and pettiness frowned upon.
While commonly perceived as a government institution, individual rec centers are privately-owned. They pay no taxes and do receive government money, as well as donations. Most of the basic amenities are available at no cost, but services such as sports teams require a fee. Many of the centers become generational institutions, with a well-regarded place in the community.