The ongoing Chicago teachers strike has claimed its first sporting victims: eight high school football teams that are now guaranteed to be on the outside of the Illinois state playoffs.
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, the cancelation of Thursday classes in Chicago Public Schools means that extracurricular activities for that evening are also suspended or canceled. That in turn meant the forfeiting of games scheduled for Thursday night, which means that eight teams will now miss the playoffs because they will be unable to work in the three practices needed before returning to game action, thereby effective ending their seasons,
Back of the Yards, Chicago Military-Bronzeville, King, Phoenix, Simeon, Solorio, Vocational and Young will all miss the playoffs because of the cancelation of their previously scheduled Thursday night game.
There are further difficulties in the teams’ playoff plans. Three of the aforementioned squads— Simeon, Chicago Military-Bronzeville and Phoenix — all needed the Thursday game to reach the minimum eight to qualify for the state tournament. Meanwhile, Back of the Yards, King, Solorio, Vocational and Young all finished with 4-4 records, one short of playoff eligibility.
The entire scenario doesn’t sit well with Simeon head coach Dante Culbreath, as he made clear to the Sun Times.
“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.”
With the playoffs opening in just a week, even a sudden resumption of classes likely wouldn’t get the practice requirements fulfilled in time to open a week from Friday. At the very least, it would be a tight squeeze.
As each day of the strike rolls on, more and more student athletes are put at risk of missing out. That includes the cross country teams, which are at danger of losing their regional meet, which would rule the runners out of state meets in turn, per 247Sports.