Kenwood football coach Sinque Turner’s team opens the season Friday, and he hasn’t heard from Chicago Public Schools if fans will be allowed at games. CPS hasn’t responded to a Sun-Times query on the subject, either.
But Michael Pierce, the father of Phillips football player Deavion Pierce, said Wildcats coach Troy McAllister has told his team to assume that no spectators will be allowed at games because CPS hasn’t told him otherwise.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced March 8 that schools could have up to 20% capacity for outdoor events. However, while the IDPH allowed 50 fans at indoor sports such as basketball this winter, CPS decided to keep the events free of spectators.
“It’s ridiculous,” Pierce said. “I’ve been watching my son play since he was 8 years old. And now you are telling me I have to miss his last five games of high school?”
Catholic League schools are allowing a limited number of fans and suburban schools seem to be bumping up against or surpassing the 20% guideline.
“De La Salle is like two minutes from us,” Pierce said. “I know it is a Catholic school, but it is in the same vicinity and they can have two parents per child and are allowing 50 or 60 students to attend games.”
Turner thinks allowing parents would be reasonable but believes a lot of schools don’t want to bother with the screening process and other tasks necessary to allow fans.
“Some programs like us and Simeon and Phillips would definitely do it,” Turner said. “But I think a lot of schools don’t want to take on that burden. But allowing parents should be an option for the schools that want to deal with it.”
Pierce said that Phillips is working on some creative options, like getting parents on the chain crew, to get them into games.
“I would help out anyway,” Pierce said. “But it is all so frustrating. Phillips has a lot of parents that are involved and looking for answers and we can’t even get CPS to respond to us. It doesn’t make any sense. We can’t have any spectators at an outside sport but at the restaurant around the corner we can dine in?’’
Public League teams weren’t allowed to play in Week 1 but will begin a five-game season this week. Pierce is hoping the CPS changes its policy on spectators before the games begin.
“Why are there different rules for [CPS kids]?” Pierce said. “Everything has been taken away from the Class of 2021. Their recruiting has suffered. They don’t get any playoffs. And now they can’t even have fans at the games? So many parents are upset and I chose to speak out for them.”