NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A rally is planned for this weekend to protest COVID rules for New York City public school athletes.
Students, coaches and parents say some of the restrictions put them at a severe disadvantage, especially when it comes to scholarships they’re counting on.READ MORE: Protesters Attempt To Storm Entrance Of Barclays Center Over Nets' Refusal To Allow Kyrie Irving To Play Due To NYC Vaccine Mandate
In Bayside, Queens, basketball practice is back for the Cardozo High School varsity team.
“It feels great,” senior Yianni Mousios said.
But amid the excitement is a big concern: no college scouts are allowed at their games or practices.
“I definitely want to play in college, and this is a big way to get looked at,” Yianni told CBS2’s Andrea Grymes.
The New York City Public School Athletic League, or PSAL, has some of the strictest COVID rules in the country:
- All athletes must be vaccinated.
- No interleague play is allowed, so city public schools are only allowed to play other city public schools.
- No fans are allowed at indoor games and practices, including parents and scouts.
“The Catholic schools can. They’ve had college coaches in in September. They’ve had college coaches in in October. Public schools, their kids, no chance,” Cardozo High School basketball coach Ron Naclerio said.READ MORE: NYPD: Knife Fight Spills Into Midtown Pizzeria, 2 Taken Into Custody
The legendary coach says NCAA rules forbid scouts from attending practices at parks.
He calls the PSAL fan rule mindboggling, especially since so many inner city kids rely on scholarships to get to college.
“If it’s to keep everybody safe, why is everybody allowed to go to a Knicks game or a Nets game?” Naclerio said.
A Department of Education spokesperson told CBS2 in part, “We were able to resume competitive athletics because of our multi-layered approach to health and safety. We are constantly evaluating our spectator policies based on the current healthcare landscape.”
So for now, parents like Yianni’s father, Chris Mousios, watch their kids play the only way they can — through the park fence.
“I’m gonna miss it when he’s done playing,” Mousios said.
Naclerio will be speaking at a rally with public school athletes and parents from across the city on Sunday afternoon outside the Barclays Center as they continue to demand changes.MORE NEWS: With Less Than A Week Before NYC's Deadline, Municipal Workers Hold Anti-Vaccine Mandate Rally On Staten Island
Basketball games start in November, but coach says now is the prime time for recruiting.