Public League football players plan trip to Lightfoot’s office on Friday

Players are planning to go to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on Friday to address their concerns about the impact the ongoing Chicago Teachers Strike is having on their school and season.

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Phillips’ offensive line and Simeon’s defensive line pushing for every yard.

Phillips’ offensive line and Simeon’s defensive line pushing for every yard.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Public League football players are planning to go to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office on Friday morning and address their concerns about the impact the ongoing Chicago Teachers Strike is having on their school and season.

Eight Public League football teams have already lost the chance to play in the state playoffs due to the ongoing Chicago Teachers Union strike. If the strike isn’t over by Oct. 29 another 18 teams could be forced to forfeit state playoff games.

Simeon senior Khalyl Warren posted a message on several social media accounts Wednesday night inviting Public League athletes to travel downtown to the mayor’s office on Friday.

“It’s getting a lot of activity so I think maybe 30 to 50 kids will show,” Warren said. “We could have a lot more involved by Friday.”

The players are inviting their parents. Warren’s message also gave some directives to his fellow students: “No separation we have to stick together. No cursing. No violent actions. No speaking over each other. One person at a time to speak. Being negative will not get our point across we do not need to give them a reason to call us ignorant minorities or etc.”

Warren is a lineman with scholarship offers from Southeast Missouri, Illinois State, Southern Mississippi, Bowling Green, Navy, Jacksonville State and South Dakota State.

“Basically we want to get our word across on how she took away our sport and how this is our chance out of Chicago,” Warren said. “I want to let her know how her keeping us out of school is making us targets for gun violence and gang-related things. There are homeless teens with nowhere to go.

“We need to get back in school and get our education. It isn’t just about football. Having to make up the days and stay longer in the summer is just going to delay us heading to college.”

Warren is concerned that his teammates will miss out on potential scholarships if they don’t play in the state playoffs. Simeon coach Dante Culbreath agrees.

“The college coaches ask about the big games, not the games you win by thirty,” Culbreath said. “No one is going to ask for the Lincoln Park or the Solorio film or any of those other teams we dominated. A lot of kids didn’t get film out of those games. They were waiting for the state playoffs.”

Bogan cornerback James Brown IV is one of the players that saw Warren’s message and plans to go to the mayor’s office on Friday.

“I want to tell the mayor how important these last few games are to me,” Brown said. “I got a phone call from a coach just today. It really hurt my chances that I had tell him we were on strike and he couldn’t see me play any other games.”

Stacy Davis Gates, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, acknowledged the “disappointment and hurt that student athletes will experience in not getting to compete at the championship level for which they’ve trained so hard.”

Davis Gates apologized for the canceled games but noted that the strike will “impact future student athletes positively for our holding strong.”

Simeon (6-1), ranked No. 13 in the Super 25, is the best team in the Public League. The Wolverines beat Phillips earlier this month and are ranked third in the state in Class 6A by the Associated Press. Simeon’s scheduled Week 2 game against an out-of-state team fell through, leaving them a game short now.

Eight Public League football teams have lost the chance to advance to the Illinois High School Association’s state football playoffs after Chicago Public Schools canceled classes for Thursday due to the ongoing Chicago Teachers Union strike.

Back of the Yards, Chicago Military-Bronzeville, King, Phoenix, Simeon, Solorio, Vocational and Young are the teams impacted.

According to IHSA strike bylaws, if football practices have been terminated for seven days (excluding Sundays) a team may not resume competition until after three days of practice. The teams cannot practice if there is no school. Thursday will be the seventh day the teams have missed practice, so that rule kicks in.

The eight teams won’t have time to get the three practices in and play a game before the state playoffs are seeded by the IHSA on Saturday afternoon. A spokesperson for the IHSA confirmed that situation on Wednesday.

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