BUSY SCHEDULE When Cavahn McKenzie died at the end of a 2014 cross-country race in Trinidad and Tobago, it was awful for St Jago High School. His teammates got the news as they contested the Gibson-McCook Relays and it crushed them. Their schoolmate, teammate and friend had left them for international duty and, tragically, never returned home. Unfortunately, the same kind of tragedy has visited St George’s College with the equally sad passing of their Manning Cup football captain, Dominic James. This time, there was a cruel twist as he died during a Manning Cup game, with spectators there to witness his last moments. Truly, for all present, it must have been a terrible moment. These gruesome things scarcely happen in sport which is entertainment for many. Yet, the grief felt by everyone has to jump-start new provisions to safeguard the health of athletes at every level. In this regard, the early announcement about heart-screening high-school student athletes becoming mandatory is most welcome. After McKenzie’s untimely passing in Trinidad and Tobago, Team Jamaica Bickle, that wonderful group of Penn Relay benefactors, has assisted with screening athletes and by donating machines – known as defibrillators – which are designed to restart hearts. This may have to become standard for high school, club and national sport. As a precaution, it may also be wise to extend the schoolboy football season into January. The present season squashes the Manning and daCosta Cup, the Walker Cup and Ben Francis KO and the FLOW Super Cup into a rapid-fire schedule that has teams playing three times in seven days, with complications if rainy weather intervenes. The schedule gets busy for the top teams, when the later stages of the Corporate Area Manning Cup and the rural area daCosta Cup commingles with the Super Cup and the Corporate Area Walker Cup and the rural area Ben Francis knockout competitions. The congestion is no one’s fault. There are far more eligible schools than in bygone days. Luckily, the solution is simple. The schedule could be relaxed by moving the Super Cup into January, the first month of the Easter term. That is a matter for another day. Right now, the Light Blues need our love and support. As with the St Jago case, James’ family and his teammates at St George’s College need counselling and the steadfast embrace of every Jamaican. At times like these, the only choice is to stand together. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! A court hearing is scheduled today on whether Los Angeles Unified can continue considering race when deciding which students to admit to magnet schools. A lawsuit filed in October 2005 by the American Civil Rights Foundation claims the district policy is unconstitutional and violates Proposition 209, which forbids the use of racial preferences in state government. The school district is under a 1981 court order to operate the magnet school and transportation programs as it currently does, according to the district’s court papers. District officials maintain that magnet schools, and the transportation program that provides free trips between selected schools, both fall within an exemption of Proposition 209. That provision takes into consideration court-ordered desegregation programs already in effect when the initiative became law in 1996. But the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the American Civil Rights Foundation, maintains the 1981 decision is no longer in effect. It also says the state Constitution does not require voluntary integration as a goal or race-balancing policies as a way to achieve that end. About 53,000 of the district’s 708,000 students are enrolled in 162 magnet programs, and about 30,000 students are on a waiting list. The integration program also includes “permits with transportation,” which bus volunteer minority students to San Fernando Valley or Westside schools. About 3,000 students participate in the program. Today’s hearing, in which the LAUSD will seek dismissal of the lawsuit, comes nearly three months after the U.S. Supreme Court restricted the use of racial considerations to integrate public schools. However, the district’s attorney has said he does not believe the Supreme Court decision will have any impact on the district.