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CPS sports can resume Friday if coaches are available

Chicago Public Schools announced Thursday night that sports can resume at high schools that “can support the events with the appropriate coaches and supervisory personnel.”

Simeon’s Aviyon Morris (0) takes the ball to the hoop against Curie.
Simeon’s Aviyon Morris (0) takes the ball to the hoop against Curie.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools announced Thursday night that sports can resume at high schools that “can support the events with the appropriate coaches and supervisory personnel.”

The announcement also says schools may travel to contests outside their buildings.

That clears the way for most boys basketball teams to play, but there are several teams that have head coaches in the Chicago Teachers Union, including Lane and Farragut.

According to a CPS source, it would be up to the individual schools to determine how they operate sports until school is back in session. So it is possible that assistant coaches that are not CTU members could take over.

“It is a beautiful thing,” Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. “I’m happy to see they are putting children first again. We are on a flight tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.”

The Dolphins play in Minnesota on Friday night.

CPS sports have been shut down since Wednesday. The Chicago Teachers Union voted on Tuesday night to refuse in-person work, defying the district plans because of COVID-19 concerns. CPS responded by canceling all classes, sports and activities.

It’s the third time sports have been disrupted by labor issues in the past 27 months.

More than 70 Chicago Public Schools coaches met on a Zoom call Thursday afternoon to discuss the stoppage of CPS sports.

Slaughter organized the call.

“We just discussed what we thought and guys shared their concerns,” Slaughter said. “First and foremost we are worried about the student-athletes. If you are a senior you’ve had the last three seasons interrupted by various issues. [The coaches] are clearly disappointed, more than upset. They understand there are points on both sides that are legitimate.”

According to the memo released Thursday night by CPS, staff members who do not report for in-person work cannot lead after-school sports activities. And any game not played will be considered canceled and not forfeited. Sports are only restarting in high schools. Elementary school sports remain paused.

There is a full slate of CPS boys basketball conference games scheduled for Friday. The Red-North/West, White-North, White-West, Blue-North and Blue-West all have games scheduled.

Kenwood will be able to head to the prestigious Highland Shootout in Southern Illinois on Saturday. Broncos coach Mike Irvin made some pointed comments on Wednesday when it looked like his team would miss out on the event.

“This is all about politics and sports are the only ones taking a hit,” Irvin said. “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 didn’t want to comment on the issues between CPS and CTU. It’s obviously a sensitive issue in their workplace. Irvin wasn’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.

“Fifty 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.”

Irvin was able to clear the trip to Highland with his school administration on Thursday night. Luckily, the Highland Shootout organizers had not replaced Kenwood yet. They began looking for other teams on Wednesday.