That first summer, only 150 or so kids showed up at Locke High for a weekend of running track and playing basketball and volleyball.
The 1968 Watts Summer Games represented an experiment by civic leaders who wondered if sports might heal some of the wounds lingering from the riots of 1965.
As an early program for the competition stated, the two-day event was “born out of chaos and strife, conceived by men who believe in the promise of youth. . . .”
Over the next four decades, the games would grow to feature more than 12,000 athletes in dozens of sports each June. Teams converged from across Southern California for what ranked among the largest high school competitions...