By: Reginald Henderson, Medium.com
Senior year… Arguably the most valuable year of high school. Students bustle through exams and assignments trying to maintain their GPAs. They energetically create memories to be cherished as friends part ways, and frantically cap off all their final responsibilities to prepare for their next journey — adulthood.
Athletes desiring to take their talents — be it on the court, course, field, or track — to collegiate status have the added pressure of performing at their highest level. Sometimes, that requires a change of environment to allow for minimal distractions, optimal exposure, and the best chances for that ideal offer. Such is the case for Allen Justin Lattimore, Jr, senior basketball student and transfer from Stiver’s to West Carrolton High School. After some disagreeable time at Stiver’s, Lattimore sought to revamp his high school career, but was set back with news that he would only be eligible for 50% of the regular season.
Knowing this was possible before he transferred, Lattimore sought exemption from the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) policy as a “self-support” student. He resides in his own apartment in West Carrollton and secured two jobs to ensure his independence. At 18 years, this is an admirable feat but, according to OHSAA, it doesn’t measure up. Since his father’s name is on the lease and Lattimore’s income was less than his rent and utility payment, his request was denied.
While possibly understandable given normal circumstances, COVID-19 has drastically changed business as usual for the world. In a time when assistance has been demanded by businesses of all capacities, governments across the board, and people of many walks of life, OHSAA holds Lattimore’s independence as inadequate. Further, finding decent, affordable housing is a heavy task for many Black Americans. If lucky enough to find one, getting approved to rent the property presents another obstacle. This young man beat both those odds with the support of his father, but OHSAA claims it unjustified. How someone his age is supposed to provide acceptable credit history is questionable, unfortunately OHSAA may think we are all privileged with it.
This situation puts Lattimore’s very future at risk. The athletic route is one undertaken by much of America’s Black youth to propel them into college and successful career opportunities. With his basketball season cut in half, he may not live the dream which his potential allows. So I ask, what are you willing to do to guarantee the success of your child, your sibling, your niece, nephew, cousin, or grandchild? It seems as if OHSAA pays no mind to the real lives of students and realities of the time. We must demand our children the right to play because rarely ever are the rules written in our favor.