The Cougars, Crenshaw High School’s powerhouse football team in the predominantly Black South Los Angeles Crenshaw neighborhood, could not participate in this year’s playoffs. Team members did not meet the vaccine mandate that requires all students to be fully vaccinated against covid-19 to be allowed to play.
Covid-19 outbreaks in 2020 and this fall that originated in schools were often traced back to sports, Aallyah Wright reported for Pew Charitable Trust’s Stateline. This led some school districts to mandate vaccines for athletes but not for all students.
“Many sports involve close contact, which increases the risk of covid-19 infections,” Wright wrote. “The paramount goal is to keep schools open and extracurricular activities going, the school leaders say, channeling the consensus that last year’s school closures and cancellations of activities wreaked havoc on kids’ mental and physical health.”
Crenshaw’s team did not have enough members, of the 18 required, that were fully vaccinated. Only 13 team members met the requirement ahead of the Nov. 5 playoffs, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials.
Crenshaw is an important anchor in L.A.’s African-American community and has become known as a powerhouse in high school sports. The school has been used as a backdrop in many movies and TV shows including “Boyz n The Hood” (1991) and “Love and Basketball” (2000).
Five-time city football champion Crenshaw started the season with 14 players, built the roster up to 29, and played seven games, finishing 4-3.
South East High School from the predominantly white South Gate, Calif., was awarded the win at the playoffs in Crenshaw’s absence and will now advance to the quarterfinals. Crenshaw missed out on another shot at glory.
A new LAUSD mandate came into effect on Nov. 1 requiring students who want to play on sports teams to be fully vaccinated against covid-19.
“They thought they were going after Trumpers, but the Democrats are going after their base with the vaccine mandate,” Fernando Garcia @Fern323Garcia tweeted in reaction to the news.
“5-time champion Crenshaw high, a mostly Black and Latino High School, forfeited the playoffs because there wasn’t enough vaxx students.”
LAUSD issued a statement saying that Crenshaw had “insufficient eligible players” on the Cougars’ roster ahead of a scheduled showdown against South East High School.
The Los Angeles Times reported in October that thousands of student-athletes could get kicked off teams for missing the district Oct. 31 vaccine deadline.
One Crenshaw player who did not get vaccinated told Fox LA affiliate KTTV that the LAUSD vaccine mandate “kind of messed me over for scholarships and things like that.”
“Yeah, playoffs, especially championship games, that’s really where everything gets seen, and that’s what I was hoping on,” the student said.
A parent said the vaccine mandate forced Crenshaw to “throw it all away for nothing” after a season of hard work.
At least 12 states ban schools from mandating vaccines for students.
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