NEW YORK (CBSNew York) – A rally is scheduled this weekend to protest COVID rules for New York public school athletes.
Students, coaches and parents say some of the restrictions put them at a serious disadvantage, especially when it comes to the scholarships they rely on.
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In Bayside, Queens, basketball practice is back for the varsity team at Cardozo High School.
“It’s awesome,” said senior Yianni Mousios.
But amid the excitement, there is a big concern: No college scout is allowed to attend their games or practice.
“I really want to play in college, and it’s a great way to be watched,” Yianni told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
The New York City Public School Athletic League, or PSAL, has some of the toughest COVID rules in the country:
- All athletes must be vaccinated.
- No interleague games are allowed, so public schools in the city are only allowed to play in other public schools in the city.
- No fans are allowed at indoor games and training, including parents and scouts.
“Catholic schools can. They had college coaches in September. They had college coaches in October. Public schools, their kids, no chance, ”Cardozo high school basketball coach Ron Naclerio said.
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The legendary coach says NCAA rules prohibit Boy Scouts from attending practice in parks.
He calls the PSAL fan rule mind-boggling, especially since so many inner city kids rely on scholarships to get to college.
“If it’s to keep everyone safe, why is everyone allowed to watch a Knicks or Nets game?” Said Naclerio.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education told CBS2 in part: “We were able to resume competitive athletics thanks to our layered approach to health and safety. We are constantly evaluating our spectator policies against the current healthcare landscape. “
So, for now, parents like Yianni’s father Chris Mousios are watching their kids play the only way they can: through the park fence.
“I’m going to miss him when he’s done playing,” Mousios said.
Naclerio will speak at a rally with public school athletes and parents from across town on Sunday afternoon outside the Barclays Center as they continue to demand change.
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Basketball games start in November, but the coach says now is the prime time for recruiting.