The Chicago Teachers Union is currently on strike seeking concessions from Chicago Public Schools on pay, benefits, class size and teacher prep time. As the dispute enters its second week, the effects are reaching beyond the classroom to the football field.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that eight Public League football teams have now lost their chance to participate in the state football playoffs due to the strike.
IHSA strike bylaws dictate that if practices are canceled for seven days (not counting Sundays), teams may not compete again until they’ve had three days of practice. Practices cannot be held when there is no school. On Thursday, the seventh day of missed practice, that rule triggers.
Back of the Yards, Chicago Military-Bronzeville, King, Phoenix, Simeon, Solario, Vocational and Young High Schools will miss out on the chance to play an additional game before the IHSA seeds its state playoffs on Saturday, meaning that all eight schools will fall short of having played the number of games required to qualify for playoffs.
“It’s very emotional and disheartening,” Simeon coach Dante Culbreath told the Sun-Times. “These kids work so hard. To lose a game is one thing. To be caught up in this is a totally different thing. I’m getting calls from emotional kids.”
Players impacted by the strike will reportedly visit Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on Friday. The event was organized by Simeon senior lineman Khalyl Warren, who has several collegiate scholarship offers.
“I want to let (Lightfoot) know how her keeping us out of school is making us targets for gun violence and gang-related things,” Warren told the Sun-Times. “There are homeless teens with nowhere to go.
“We need to get back in school and get our education. It isn’t just about football. Having to make up the days and stay longer in the summer is just going to delay us heading to college.”
Warren also expressed concerns for his teammates, who he fears will miss out on potential scholarship opportunities if they’re not able to showcase their talents on the playoff stage.