Exactly… How Do They Block Kids?

Parental rights and prerogatives have long been recognized in American courts. Parental rights in making important decisions in the following three areas are recognized in every jurisdiction:

  1. Religious upbringing
  2. Medical Care
  3. Education

Religious upbringing is often a sensitive topic within families and can lead to disagreements between parents and other family members. In some cases, a parent may be concerned about religious practices and their potential influence on their child. Imagine a Christian, Jewish or Muslim family having to answer to a principal, coach or athletic director about a decision to change churches, mosques or synagogue?

Makes no sense…

Ongoing medical care child is an essential element of parenting. State and federal laws are in place to ensure that parents provide adequate healthcare coverage for their children. Imagine a family having to seek permission from a principal, coach or athletic director for a broken bone, surgery or cancer treatment?

Makes no sense…

A major component of parenting involves decisions related to education including the location of the child’s schooling and education related expenses. Details related to a child’s extracurricular activities are also an important aspect of parenting. Imagine a family having to seek permission from a principal, coach or athletic director at his old school to transfer to another school and play football, basketball, softball or tennis.

Also, makes no fuckin sense… But…

RJ Sledge, a sophomore at Imani Christian won an appeal of Bishop Canevin’s efforts to BLOCK him from playing last week.

That is exactly how the system is currently structured.

It’s as if your ex-girlfriend had veto power over who you could and could not date after you broke up. Or, your old boss could determine where you could work after you were no longer employed by the company.

Principals, coaches and athletic directors are BLOCKING kids from participating in varsity athletic with increasing frequency. In many of these cases, sports is one of the main factors keeping the kids engaged with educational institutions. This is especially the case for many young Black male student-athletes.

The struggle in the Black community is real. Recent studies indicate that 45% of Black students attended high-poverty schools, compared with 8% of white students. More than 64% of Black students have parents whose education level is less than high school. About 45% live in mother-only households. Another 35% live in father-only households.

It’s no secret that Black males between the ages of 12-25 are fueling incredible levels of violent criminal activity seen in American cities. Why would any “educator” purposely place barriers between young people and opportunities to participate in scholastic sports?

Wouldn’t you rather watch a young man run the 100 meter hurdles than witness him unloading 40-60 high caliber shells into other young men?

Wouldn’t you rather watch a young man dunk on somebody than witness him dragging someone’s grandmother out of her car at gunpoint?

I attended one PIAA eligibility hearing where after being denied an opportunity to play his senior year, a young man jumped on the table and attempted assault the coaches and athletic director that BLOCKED him from playing. I had to sit with the young man and attempt to calm him down… The anger and frustration was boiling over… Understandable, to say the least.

So… How exactly does this work? What are the tools that adults are using to douse the athletic and educational flames raging within these young people?

Let’s walk through the process… Below is page 1 of the PIAA Athletic Waiver Request Form. As you can see, page 1 collects basic demographic information and sports participation history beginning in the 7th grade.

Things get much more interesting on page 2 below. As you can see, the principal is given an a choice to “complete and sign EITHER A or B.” If the principal completes and signs A, the kid is good to go. The principal is “releasing” the kid. This is the action one would expect a career educator to take. After all, the principal is entrusted with administering a facility designed to educate and inspire young people.

The reality of the situation, unfortunately, is that principals completing and signing part B with alarming frequency.

The language is very clear, “I hereby request that the District Committee having jurisdiction over my school review the circumstances of Transfer to assess whether the Transfer was motivated in some material way by an athletic purpose and/or was the result of recruiting, which was materially motivated in some way by an athletic purpose.”

The principal at the behest of the coach and/or athletic director, at this point, has decided to BLOCK a kid from playing scholastic sports for a year. It’s NOT the District, it’s NOT the system, it’s NOT some anonymous complaint… The ONLY way a kid is BLOCKED is by the principal at the behest of the coach and/or athletic director.

This is how it works…

Maybe a coach spent a lot of extra time working with the kid in the summer or after practice. The coach feels that he has invested time and energy in the kid and now he wants to prevent another school from benefiting from his efforts. The coach feels justified in saying if you don’t play for me, you won’t play anywhere this season.

Maybe the coach at the new school never contacted the coach at the old school about the transfer. Maybe the coach feels disrespected. In a perfect world, a coach would reach out to another coach if one of his kids pops up in his gym or workout talking about transferring. That is a professional courtesy that many coaches extend. But some don’t… Should the kid have to sit a full season because a coach failed to call another coach? Naaaah… that consequence ‘s way too harsh.

Pages 3 and 4 are where the principals, coaches and athletic directors have to provide “evidence” to support their desire to prevent the kid from playing.

Fully aware that the parents have decided to transfer the kid, this is where principals, coaches and athletic directors insert “proof” that the parents are lying. This is where they tell the state to completely disregard whatever reasons the parents provided.

Family moved? School climate unsafe? Poor academics?

“Fuck all that shit… Dey lyin'”

They transferred him for athletic reasons and here is the dossier supporting are request to BLOCK the kid.

Imagine having to present this to your pastor, imam or rabbi before joining prayer?

Imagine having to present this to your pediatrician, oncologist or dentist before receiving medical treatment?

For me, it’s really very simple “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Somewhere along the line, the logic underlying Luke 6:31 has been replaced by JBM 1:1…

“Get down or Lay Down.”

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