Southeast Queens City Council candidate organizes rally on Saturday to save public school sports

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James Johnson, a democratic candidate in the running to represent Council District 27, is inviting the southeast Queens community to come out at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6, to rally for New York City school sports. 

Johnson will lead a 200-person rally with parents, students and coaches at the intersection of Merrick Boulevard and Baisley Boulevard in St. Albans at the corner of Roy Wilkins Park to advocate for equal opportunity and fairness for student-athletes.

COVID-19 safety guidelines and social distancing will be implemented at the rally. Face masks will also be distributed to attendees. 

“As a former student-athlete at Campus Magnet High School, I couldn’t imagine not having extracurricular activities for a whole year,” said Johnson, who grew up playing basketball, football, and ran track. “Long Island schools will be starting their sports season while following COVID-19 protocols and getting tests. Why can’t we do the same for city schools?”

According to Johnson, certain private schools and Catholic schools have also been practicing in facilities for a long time, while student athletes in public schools across the city have had no access to buildings for practice. 

Since New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law creating the “Bridge Year Pilot Program” that would give current high school sophomores and juniors an optional “bridge year” to participate in high school extracurricular programs, Johnson said it would result in student athletes leaving New York City to play sports in New Jersey. 

Overall, Johnson said they’re simply asking for fairness and equality. 

“Don’t punish student athletes because they go to public schools. Give them the same options as private and catholic schools and schools in Long Island,” Johnson said. “We’re asking to start a season this spring, safely. We have the COVID-19 testing citywide and let’s make sure we’re allocating that to our schools.” 

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