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For a Level Field

In theory, it doesn’t take much to get a game going between friends. But without a gym, or a field, or a track, or a pool — precious resources in a space-strapped city — competitive sports are hard to organize. Across New York City, high school students are playing volleyball in dance studios, soccer in cafeterias, and using baby wipes to clean up in lieu of post-practice showers. It’s not just the story of a tight squeeze in a dense habitat, because access to space and teams in public schools is largely determined by a student’s race — by the city’s geography of segregation, and by the legacy of a movement for small schools that, in an attempt to attend to struggling students, has put mostly kids of color in scaled-down facilities.

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