The decline in participation in inner-city high school football programs is not a result of the city's decision to close "many" community playgrounds, as stated in Reginald Mack's Nov. 26 letter. In fact, the D.C. Department of Recreation built nine new recreation centers during the 1970s, and today we operate more playgrounds than ever before.

The department provides this city's young people with enriching programs ranging from athletics to cultural activities. Recently, several new sports programs have been introduced, including the Jabbo Kenner Football League, the Mayor's Amateur Boxing Program and instruction in tennis, soccer, cycling, tumbling, martial arts and physical fitness. Traditional programs such as the Junior Park Rangers remain active.

Project Cinema, sponsored by the Recreation Centers and Playgrounds Administration, is a new program designed to provide teens with wholesome, fun-filled educational excursions and discussions to help them in making decisions about substance abuse, sexuality, suicide and other problems facing today's young people. Nearly 10,000 young people have been recruited from 17 public-housing sites to participate in the OSAY (Operating Services Assisting Youth) Program.

The youth of our city are not being ignored. Many dedicated workers continue to serve as respected role models, just as Mr. Mack recalled about the 1960s. I appreciate Mr. Mack's sentiments about the positive influence of organized sports and its leaders. Staff and volunteers in the Department of Recreation share his belief that recreation can make a profound difference in the quality of life for the people of our city.

WILLIAM E. JOHNSON Director, D.C. Department of Recreation Washington