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City Section Games to Resume

High school: Private vehicles, Saturday games will get varsity playing despite drivers' strike.

April 10, 2002|PETER YOON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

City Section athletic directors voted 43-6 on Tuesday to resume varsity competition as early as this weekend, even if it means using privately owned vehicles for transportation until a school bus drivers' strike is settled.

The athletic directors, who convened at Hamilton High for an emergency meeting to discuss their options in the face of the strike by Laidlaw bus drivers, also voted to allow competition on Saturdays when a limited number of non-Laidlaw buses will be available.

The plan halts all junior varsity and freshman-sophomore competitions during the strike. The section rules committee, which meets Tuesday, is likely to waive a rule that prohibits moving players between varsity and junior varsity teams.

"This is not a normal situation and we are not going to try and make it normal," City Section Commissioner Barbara Fiege said. "But we've done what we can to at least get our varsity teams back on the fields."

City Section sports have been on hiatus since the strike began April 1 because buses used to transport teams were not available. District policy prohibits the use of private vehicles for transporting athletic teams.

The emergency plan will allow student athletes and their parents to drive team members to competitions as long as each student signs a waiver releasing the Los Angeles Unified School District and its member schools of responsibility in case of an accident.

But that is a cause of concern. Most lower-income students do not own cars and those who do often drive without insurance.

"That's a big thing," said Sue Kamiyama, athletic director at Bell High. "The district is not providing insurance so we have to try and work out a plan with all the schools we have in our league."

One option is to play on Saturdays when transportation is available, but facilities become an issue. Many schools do not have baseball or softball fields, or tennis courts, and must use public parks, which aren't available on weekends.

All games missed last week have been rescheduled. Competitions scheduled for this week, including two highly anticipated baseball games between Chatsworth and Woodland Hills El Camino Real, will not be made up.

"Unfortunately that's the situation," said Chatsworth Athletic Director Fluke Fluker. "It's not utopia, but it's as good as we can get right now.

"The important thing is to get kids playing. For some of them, sports is their life. That's the reason they're in school in the first place."

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