Beach Baby

I’m not one to underestimate all the things that have changed in our society since I was a child due to the influx of mothers into the paid workforce, but I can’t quite bring myself to blame them for the demise of local pool clubs, a la The Washington Post, especially when it seems the culprit really lies elsewhere: 

At pools built 40, 50 or 60 years ago, bath houses are moldering. Pumps do not work. A sinkhole threatens the entire parking lot of one club in Fairfax County. And at the same time that many of these clubs need new people and their money, pool memberships are plummeting.

In many neighborhoods, older families no longer have young children. Two-career families have no time. And some immigrant families are less inclined to join because they are new to the area or because the pool does not hold the same cultural value for them as it does for generations of suburban Americans.

However a few paragraphs down the reporter points out that pool clubs in the more affluent towns surrounding Washington D.C. are somehow not facing this problem: 

Many pools continue to thrive in such affluent inner enclaves as North Arlington, McLean and Bethesda, where initiation fees exceed $1,000 and waiting lists stretch four years or more. 

Let’s get real here. Are there really that many more stay-at-home moms in Bethesda than Rockville? Do immigrant children really not enjoy swimming on a hot summer day?  Why, whenever this intrepid blogger shows up at a pool club, does she see numerous elderly folks playing tennis, golf, and otherwise enjoying life?

Missing in this feature is a town-to-town income comparison that would, no doubt, explain the reasons for Washington D.C.’s dying pool clubs much more accurately and honestly than an article pointing the finger at working moms and immigrants.  The lack of honesty in our national discourse when it comes to the politics of rich and poor should never be underestimated.

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