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Chicago School Sports Contests on Hold During Teachers Strike

AP_ChicagoSports.jpg

With 25,000 Chicago teachers and other school workers on strike for the second straight day, Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) sports teams will be prohibited from participating in any official contests until the strike concludes.

However, local school boards can still allow their schools' sports teams to practice regularly during the strike.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) board of directors on Monday rejected a waiver request from CPS that would have allowed sports teams to participate in regular contests, despite the strike. IHSA bylaw 2.140 prohibits school sports teams from participating in "an interscholastic contest or activity during the time the member school is not in session due to a strike by teachers or other school personnel."

Granting the waiver request for bylaw 2.140 would "extended beyond [the board's] authority," IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said in a statement. "The IHSA's bylaws are developed by and voted into practice by its member-school principals, and, after some meaningful discussion, the board ultimately felt respecting the guidelines put in place by our member schools was the only option available in this situation, and any change to the bylaws would need to be facilitated through the IHSA legislative process."

However, bylaw 2.140 does include provisions that allow school sports teams to practice under certain conditions. The practices must be approved by the school's governing board and administration; must ensure the health and safety of students; cannot include students from a school whose teachers aren't on strike; and must be supervised by coaches who meet IHSA qualifications.

Even before the IHSA's decision on Monday, Jason Richardson, the head football coach at Percy L. Julian High School in Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune that he was planning on continuing practice with his team, whether on school grounds or in a local park.

"A lot of guys are still planning on meeting at different places and practicing," Richardson told the paper. "Football teams have to stay active. You just don't want to put them in the streets. What will happen is you will lose your team."

The IHSA football playoffs could particularly feel the impact of the strike, as school football teams must play a minimum of nine games to be playoff-eligible, according to ChicagoNow. Scheduled games between CPS schools will count as a double-forfeit, unless missed games will be made up once the strike concludes, the Tribune reported.

For students competing for athletic scholarships to college, they're likely praying for a speedy resolution to the strike. Unfortunately for them, Teacher Beat blogger Stephen Sawchuk reported earlier today there's still no end in sight.

In a statement released today, the Chicago Teachers Union said "we have a considerable way to go" before calling off the strike.

So... how about those Chicago Bears?

Photo: Foreman High School football team captain Johnny Daniels, center, runs an unofficial practice for his team at Chopin Park on Friday in Chicago. The strike in the nation's third-largest school district could have unintended consequences for Chicago students whose college dreams are tied to their actions on the playing field. (Brian Kersey/AP)

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