Chicago Public Schools

CPS Football Teams Allowed to Practice Despite Strike

CPS athletes have been unable to compete since a teachers strike began last week

Chicago Public Schools football teams will be allowed to practice even as a strike continues in the city, with the fate of their postseason hanging in the balance. 

CPS and the Illinois High School Association both confirmed the decision Wednesday, giving the teams just enough practices to still qualify for their first playoff matchup this weekend. 

The association had earlier waived its eight-game qualification rule, allowing some Chicago schools to be seeded in state playoffs, but the organization did not waive its three-practice rule, meaning schools would need at least three team practices before playing in a playoff game. 

According to the board's vote, schools needed to resume practice by Wednesday in order to play their first-round playoff game otherwise they would be forced to forfeit their games. 

“Earlier [Wednesday], Chicago Public Schools informed the IHSA that it will allow its high school football teams to practice during the strike," IHSA said in a statement.

The move is allowed by IHSA under a strike policy that requires any practices be approved by the local board of education and school administration, be conducted by personnel who meet a special set of provisions, and be conducted "in such manner that assures the health and safety of the participants." 

The strike will need to be over for the teams to compete in Saturday's playoff games, however. 

"An exact timeline for determining the forfeit deadline will be announced later this week," IHSA's statement read. 

IHSA noted that any forfeits would have financial implications that stretch outside of the city. Host schools receive a guaranteed payment from IHSA for hosting a game as well as a portion of gate receipts. A profit of up to $20,000 "isn't improbable," the association said, though they estimate forfeits could range between $2,000 and $6,000 "with totals generally increasing each round as the crowds do as well." 

The schools impacted by the decision include Simeon Academy as well as Chicago Military in Bronzeville and Phoenix Military Academy.  

About 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike Oct. 17, canceling school for more than 300,000 students.

Classes were canceled for a 10th consecutive day Wednesday after a dramatic few days of negotiations and deliberations.

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