Pretty brilliant commentary by high school junior Elizabeth Kapnick regarding the Highland Park girls’ basketball team controversy…
My school is largely composed of upper-middle-class Caucasians, with a significant Latino population. Thus, when Assistant Superintendent Suzan Hebson refers to “safety” as one of the factors that led to the school board’s decision, she is referring to the large number of students who might be at risk traveling to Arizona for the tournament, according to a new law which says that anyone even suspected of being an illegal immigrant can now be asked to show their papers.
Although the tournament is optional, District 113 (my community’s school system) values the inclusion and protection of ALL students. So if the school board had approved the trip, it would have automatically discouraged some students at my school from trying out for the basketball team. Since the varsity tryouts are not held until fall, a large number of Latino students who feel uncomfortable or at risk under the new law might not try out, knowing the team would be going to Arizona. Furthermore, the long-term implications of allowing such a trip might be interpreted as a political statement in favor of the law, a message that would alienate a larger number of students at the school.
The idea that a field trip — albeit one out of state — and the cookies the team sold to get there are everybody’s main concern, rather than the very controversial bill that could indirectly impact the lives of some of their classmates, is deeply disturbing. I know the team sold cookies. I know they are disappointed. But there will be other tournaments, and the stakes are simply too high.
Sure, I agree that canceling the trip isn’t an ideal solution, but it is the lesser of two evils. Our women’s basketball team represents District 113, a district that does not support any action that would ever result in the ineligibility of some of its students to participate on a sports team solely based on their ethnicity. While those who oppose the school board’s decision do not necessarily support SB 1070 (the immigration bill recently adopted by the state of Arizona and currently dividing the nation), their selfish complaints provide support for continued exclusion and maintenance of the status quo.
I wish, moving forward, that the basketball team, my city and my country would respect this decision and look past the supposed team rights being violated, to see the larger picture of the human and national rights at risk.