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NEW YORK — Students, coaches and parents say COVID-19 restrictions put them at a severe disadvantage when it comes to potential athletic scholarships.

The New York City Public School Athletic League has some of the strictest rules in the country. 

Under the PSAL’s regulations, all athletes must be vaccinated. Additionally, no interleague play is allowed, so city public schools are only allowed to play other city public schools.

But the biggest impact, advocates said, is that no fans are allowed at indoor games and practices — that includes college scouts.

“They’re not allowed to sit there and watch and it’s going to be detrimental,” Athletic Director Jesse Pachter said. “It’s going to prevent players from being awarded potential scholarship opportunities.”

Athlete and Long Island City High School Student Body President Garrett “Bam” Morgan Jr. dreams of playing in college, but a lack of access to college recruiters makes that more difficult for students.

George Lanese, the co-founder of the non-profit About U, is trying to bridge that gap through inviting high school athletes in New York City to a showcase called “Elite V.”

While access to scouts remains limited, Pachter said he advises kids to become technically savvy by creating a highlight reel and figuring out when they can meet virtually with recruiters.

The Department of Education issued this statement to PIX11 News:

“Our schools are some of the safest places to be during this pandemic and we were able to resume competitive athletics because of our multi-layered approach to health and safety. We are constantly evaluating our spectator polices based on the current healthcare landscape, and we continue to celebrate the safe return of athletics with over 13,000 students currently on the field and over 500 competitions already safely conducted.