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Extended Strike Could Put Some Student-Athletes’ College Dreams At Risk

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Chicago Public Schools student-athletes practice at a South Side park during the ongoing teachers' strike. An Illinois High School Association ruling bars CPS sports teams from playing games during the strike, but allows practices. (Credit: CBS)

Chicago Public Schools student-athletes practice at a South Side park during the ongoing teachers’ strike. An Illinois High School Association ruling bars CPS sports teams from playing games during the strike, but allows practices. (Credit: CBS)

Brad Edwards Brad Edwards
Brad Edwards is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2 Chicago. He...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – While the city’s teachers’ strike continues, the 11,000 student-athletes attending Chicago Public Schools can’t play, after the Illinois High School Association denied the district’s request for a waiver to allow for games and practices during the walkout.

The IHSA said its bylaws simply don’t allow games to continue if teachers aren’t on the job, although it ruled practices can be held if CPS wishes.

As CBS 2’s Brad Edwards discovered on one local playing field the real worry for some student-athletes is striking out when it comes to college scholarships.

Locked out of their field of dreams on the South Side, in a show of solidarity in survival, a couple dozen players from a half dozen rival high schools practiced together on Tuesday.

Anderson Lee Potts, a football player at George Henry Corliss High School, said “This is my important year, because this is my junior year. I’ve only got one more year, so this is my last. I’m playing it like it’s my last, so really I just need support.”

At nearly 6’3”, and hoping to top 300 pounds, Potts plays left tackle and defensive end, and is hoping to get a scholarship to play college ball.

But to get one, college recruiters need to see him play. They can’t see that as long as CPS teachers are on strike.

For Potts, he sees football as his potential ticket out of poverty.

“I dream that this is my ticket out, and taking my mom out of … the ghetto, because she’s really tired of it,” he said. “They’re always shooting around my block, and everything.”

Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has said he’s disappointed the strike could “deprive Chicago Public Schools’ student-athletes the opportunity to pursue their dreams on the field. … and could compromise their pursuit of college scholarship opportunities.”

Potts said football is important to him, because it’s “my chance to make it out of here; make it far away from Illinois as possible.”

He said he would like to take his mom back to her former home in Mississippi.

“That’s where she really love it,” he said.

Officials with the athletic departments at a number of public schools said the strike wouldn’t affect star athletes. But the ones who don’t necessarily make headlines – the borderline players as one administrator put it – and fighting to draw the attention of recruiters could lose out if there’s an extended strike.

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