An inner-city Chicago high school will claim its second forfeit of the season tonight, though the reasons behind the forfeits are far more troubling than simple strength of team or lack of numbers; teams are reportedly afraid of escalating violence in the neighborhood that surrounds the school’s home field.
As reported by Chicago ABC affiliate WLS, a second team officially filed to forfeit its scheduled game at Chicago Hope Academy over fears of violence at the school’s Altgeld Park, on Chicago’s West Side. During a game against Providence (Ill.) in the stadium on Sep. 29 shots were fired nearby, allegedly as close as 75 yards from the stadium. That in turn led to an almost surreal scene where all the players on the field and sidelines dropped to the deck to avoid any stray shots.
The incident was sufficiently troubling for Wheaton St. Francis (Ill.) to decide it wasn’t worth risking, with the school officially forfeiting to Hope Academy.
Now Bishop McNamara (Ill.) has followed suit, forfeiting its scheduled appearance at Altgeld Park to avoid being put at any risk of being exposed to any potential nearby violence.
“Student and fan safety is always our number one priority,” Bishop McNamara President/Principal Terry Granger told WLS.
That sentiment drew little sympathy from Hope Academy President Bob Muzikowski.
“We had the police commander call and the mayor’s office. The police commander guaranteed their safety,” Chicago Hope Academy President Bob Muzikowski told WLS. “If the lord of the universe comes down here and gets nailed to a cross and beaten to death, the least you could do is come down and play football on the West Side.”