CHICAGO (CBS) — As the Chicago teachers’ strike continued Sunday, more student athletes were speaking out in hopes of salvaging their playoff runs.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves spoke Sunday to some soccer players who are now pleading with state officials to let them play.
The team at George Washington High School, at 3535 E. 114th St. on the city’s Southeast Side, has days to spare until the start of state soccer playoffs.
“It starts on Tuesday and Wednesday for most schools, so we’re trying to make the change now so we can be able to play this Tuesday,” said GWHS soccer goalkeeper Lalo Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, a senior, made a plea to the Illinois High School Association in hopes of playing on the field.
“The coaches are going to miss out on the abilities and the potential that some players have to get these scholarships and play college ball,” he said.
Rodriguez and a fellow senior teammate said they understand the citywide teachers’ strike might not allow them to play, and it’s tough being stuck in the middle.
“I see one side of it and the other side of it,” said senior soccer player Giovany Delatorre. “But it’s like, these are adult problems that are going on right now.”
And they are problems that on paper, according to rules and guidelines, seem to put the playoffs on hold for dozens of Chicago schools.
IHSA offices were closed late Sunday, but we did look up that strike policy ourselves. It states clearly that if a strike started before the beginning of the state series, the school is not allowed to participate.
Now, teachers who are also coaches plan to point out a key word – competition. They claim it already started when teams were seeded earlier in the month.
“From that point of view, the competition is not when we start our games,” a coach said. “The competition starts when we coaches determine our seeding.”
It is a decision that could impact not only soccer, but many other CPS sports.
The IHSA issued a statement explaining its policies:
“IHSA By-laws and Policy are created by our member high schools and the principals who serve on our Board of Directors, respectively. The IHSA Policy that encompasses how IHSA State Series Tournaments are handled in relation to the participation by schools who are on strike is very clear in its language. If a high school or district is on strike when the IHSA State Series begins at its lowest level, then that high school or the high schools in that district are prohibited from participating. Because the IHSA Boys and Girls Golf State Series and the Class 1A Soccer State series started before the strike, per the IHSA Policy, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) high school golfers and 1A Soccer teams were allowed to continue to participate in the State Series.
“However, CPS chose to prohibit any further participation by its student-athletes, thus eliminating there participation in the state series. One of the rights granted to IHSA member high schools is the ability to appeal Association By-laws and Policy. We have received an appeal request seeking to allow participation by CPS schools in the Boys 2A and 3A Soccer and Girls 1A and 2A Tennis State Series. However, our Board of Directors is unlikely to hear the appeal while the strike is ongoing as it appears the CPS does not plan to allow for participation during the strike. As we look toward the future, there are clear guidelines in place for IHSA member schools to be able to impact change in IHSA By-laws and Policy.”
Thousands of parents and student athletes are now waiting to see what comes next in all aspects.