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Kenwood basketball coach Mike Irvin sounds off on CPS sports stoppage

Kenwood coach Mike Irvin had planned to take his team to the prestigious Highland Shootout in Southern Illinois this weekend.

Kenwood coach Mike Irvin talks to a player at a game last season.
Kenwood coach Mike Irvin talks to a player at a game last season.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Kenwood has one of the best basketball teams in the country. Broncos coach Mike Irvin had planned to take his team to the prestigious Highland Shootout in Southern Illinois this weekend.

That won’t happen due to the work stoppage issues with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union. Irvin says it will cost the school about $2,000. But that isn’t the biggest loss.

“That’s a national event with all kinds of scouts watching,” Irvin said. “Colleges told me they were coming. It’s a great showcase.”

Irvin said his team and all of his coaches are vaccinated.

“We take this seriously and want to be safe,” Irvin said. “But this is all about politics and sports are the only ones taking a hit. The mayor and [CPS CEO Pedro Martinez] need to understand sports is an outlet for these kids. Everytime something happens they want to take something way from the kids.”

Most Public League coaches don’t want to comment on the issues between CPS and CTU. It’s obviously a sensitive issue in their workplace. Irvin says he isn’t worried about offending people.

“I’m fighting for my kids,” Irvin said. “These parents are looking for scholarships. They don’t want to pay for college. This tournament this weekend helps them get exposure and it helps them get to school. I’m not saying sports is more important then academics. My team has a 3.0 GPA.”

Irvin works in security at Kenwood. He isn’t in the CTU, but his family has been heavily involved in CPS sports for several generations.

“50 percent of the basketball coaches probably aren’t in the union,” Irvin said. “To conduct a basketball game you need kids, coaches and refs. You don’t need teachers. This doesn’t have anything to do with teachers.”

CPS athletes have suffered through multiple shutdowns over the past 27 months. Irvin says his players are frustrated and reaching a breaking point.

“They only played 12 games last year and had now playoffs, while most states played full seasons,” Irvin said. “Why are we getting penalized for all this?”