Important Update Regarding the LA Watts Summer GamesApril 1, 2014
OPEN LETTER TO THE FRIENDS OF THE WATTS SUMMER GAMES
The year was 1968. In the aftermath of the 1965 Watts Riots, members of the Human Relations Committee of the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce, including Bill Simms, J.P Millikan and Rick Moos started a project designed to ease tensions by bringing athletes together in athletic competition. The Watts Junior Olympics attracted 150 participants in three sports to Locke High School in Watts. A year later the U. S. Olympic Committee objected to use of the Olympic name and the Watts Summer Games was born, along with the Watts Athletic Club, where inner city athletes were taken, by Junior Chamber members, to local firms like Pacific Bell, Southern California Edison, and SoCal Gas, to learn about job opportunities, and to Western Airlines to tour a 747 at LAX.
It took 10 years, but by 1978, the Games were bringing together over 10,000 participants from throughout Southern California who had not previously had the opportunity to compete and get to know each other. We also expanded into other activities, like cheer leading, sports writing and an arts contest. The Games enjoyed the support of many community leaders, coaches, and volunteers, including hundreds of Junior Chamber members and friends.
Through the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s the Games enjoyed continuous success, and over the years has served an estimated 300,000 student athletes from diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. The Games has become a gathering of cultures, ideas and philosophies and the realization that today’s youth can achieve common goals and reach greater heights through healthy competition. The Games Credo, said by every player before every game, says it all: “I will- Play fair. Respect my opponent. Win with Integrity. Lose with dignity. Above all, pursue the game with honor.”
In recent years, the Watts Summer Games have proven to be a catalyst for the overwhelming amount of summer sport competitions for high school athletes. These competitions have become commonplace not only in Los Angeles, but throughout the nation; many of which incorporate the core of our credo: Respect, Integrity and Dignity. Undoubtedly, the legacy of the Games will always be a source of pride for the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce and its membership. However, the Junior Chamber will no longer host the Watts Summer Games, and instead focus our talent and resources on a new community service project.
To those hundreds of thousands of participants, and thousands of volunteers, coaches, administrators, financial sponsors and friends, we thank you for your support and trust that you believe that our collective efforts have meant something to the young people of our communities. An event is being planned in early summer to thank those who have given so much, and we will have more about that later. For now, let us all try and apply the last line of the Games Credo to our lives and community service; “Above all, pursue the game with honor.” If we do that, then the Watts Summer Games will live on, forever…..
Board of Directors
Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce
Board of Trustees
Los Angeles Junior Chamber Charity Foundation