I am a concerned citizen who deeply appreciates the community benefits of our limited and precious open space. I use the District's open space for the game of softball, a sport that has grown tremendously in recent years for both youth and adults. I have had the good fortune of playing in several softball leagues in Washington for more than 25 years, and the health I enjoy today is due in large measure to my recreational activities throughout my lifetime of 54 years.

Not only has softball provided outdoor exercise for thousands of citizens; it is also superb entertainment for families, friends, tourists and other spectators who get a lot of enjoyment out of watching the game.

All of this has been made possible by land being made available, very special land, which has been set aside. This land brings opportunities for citizens like me and thousands of others. It provides a humanizing influence on the community. In fact, it has played a very important part in bringing the city to life for those of us who are lucky enough to live here.

This land is the epitome of multiple use: it not only provides for softball but for soccer, football, polo, cricket and numerous other sports; not only for active sports but for spectator sports; not only for fans but for tourists, even for people who want to enjoy a picnic lunch while watching.

To give you some idea of the number of participants using the District's softball fields, take just the nine fields at West Potomac Park during a single season: that number is more than 10,000 people. The number of spectators is some multiple of that. Three hundred and eighty softball teams from Capitol Hill alone used the open space just last year, according to the D.C. Department of Recreation. This does not include teams for football, volleyball and soccer.

If this land were taken away for monuments, it would be gone forever, as would all the benefits I have described. There is nothing more American than sports and athletics -- they are the heart of America. We must do all we can to keep them alive and healthy in the capital.