Joe Trost, columnist for #PrepSportsReport
Imagine if 22 hands controlled your very next move.
Imagine if for the rest of your life a misinterpreted policy cost you lifelong memories that maybe your sibling, relative or neighbor got to experience.
Now, imagine if you got a chance to correct a simple mistake that could change 1,000s of lives in a single second.
That’s exactly what 11 principals from around the state of Illinois will have in the palms of their hands on Monday morning.
Here is the starting lineup for the soon-to-be-famous 11 that make up the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors – Tim McConnell (President, Erie); Katy Hasson (Vice President, Rockridge); Robert Nolting (Secretary, Andrew); Scott Adreon (Treasurer, Dunlap); Jon Baffico (Saint Patrick); Tim Moore (Bloomington); Todd Roger (Carterville); Dr. Joyce Kenner (Young); Kurt Tenopir (Fremd); Amy McMahan (PORTA); and Dan Tully (Notre Dame).
How ironic that there are 11 people on this soon-to-be-famous board, the same number of starters for every single high school boys soccer team in the IHSA state series competition.
This past Friday, the IHSA put its “strike policy” into place for Chicago Public Schools, thus impacting nearly 100 high schools and 1,000s of Class 2A and 3A boys soccer players.
On Monday, these soon-to-be-famous 11 will get together via conference call to read and vote on an appeal (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE APPEAL), which was submitted by Washington High School and Alcott College Prep on behalf of all Class 2A and 3A CPS boys soccer teams scheduled to play on or after Tuesday of this week.
Multiple lawyers and school administrators (superintendents, principals and athletic directors), who reviewed the appeal brief prior to it being submitted on Sunday night, stated that it’s very clear the nearly 100 CPS boys soccer teams should be reinstated in the prescheduled state series competition on or after Tuesday of this week.
Every adult and person with a clue will tell you that a teacher’s strike should not impact student athletes playing a game. Why there is even a strike policy makes one wonder if it was school administrators or teacher’s unions that lobbied for this rule decades ago to put kids and the community in the middle to pressure the other side.
Think about the politics behind closed doors.
Oh, the world we live in.
But let’s get back to the facts, and this is exactly what the soon-to-be-famous 11 will be focusing on in the appeal brief.
It won’t come down to emotion, but it will come down to one single word: “Competition.”
The appeal states that there is clear evidence that “competition” in the Class 2A and 3A boys soccer state series “competition” started on Oct. 1 during the IHSA-organized seeding “competition” event, resulting in first, second, third, fourth, etc. finishes.
In Indiana, for example, seeds are predetermined by geography. They do not have a seeding “competition” event for their state series “competition,” where teams would use skill of the sport to earn a record that would then be required – as the IHSA does – to use at the seeding “competition” event.
Under the IHSA boys soccer terms and conditions, it notes to withdraw from the state series “competition” without penalty, a principal or athletic director must notify the IHSA office in writing of the school’s withdraw prior to the seeding “competition” event.
The IHSA, like all high school associations throughout the U.S., has its own definition for pretty much every word in its by-laws. Who knows, my name might be under a special keyword in an IHSA definition book after all these years.
But here’s the key: The IHSA has a definition for “competition” and a definition for a “game.”
Nowhere in the definition of the “strike policy” is the word “game” mentioned. If the IHSA wanted the “strike policy” to center around a “game,” it would have used the word “game” – as defined in its definitions – opposed to using the word “competition.”
“Competition” is mentioned three separate times in the “strike policy” rule, and the word “game” is not mentioned once.
The CPS strike began on Oct. 17, which means this portion of the IHSA “strike policy” should have been applied: “If any school subsequently incurs a strike (after the first competition), the qualified teams and/or students will be permitted to continue participating in the state series competition, so far as the IHSA strike policy is concerned, even though their school may not be in legal session on the dates of subsequent state series competition in that sport.”
Adults – especially educators – tell kids all the time: “Words have meanings.”
And in this case, “competition” was used in the “strike policy,” not games.
That falls on the IHSA, not on the backs of nearly 100 Class 2A and 3A CPS boys soccer teams.
So now the soon-to-be-famous 11 may think, “Who will coach the reinstated teams if the CPS teachers are still on strike?”
Like the suburbs, there are a number of non-teachers coaching high school soccer within CPS. Not only that, but I have spoken to a number of teachers, who are coaches, that have said they will support their teams and coach them in the state series competition, which resumes on Tuesday.
CPS schools are open. Administrators are working. Many of the administrators are former coaches.
This isn’t hard folks, let’s not make it hard.
It’s time for me to end this column for the soon-to-be-famous 11 to become heroes for 1,000s of student athletes and their families.
CornerKICKS appears on Sundays. Contact Joe Trost at email@example.com.
Bio on columnist: Joe Trost is an award-winning writer: STAR Newspapers, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune and ESPN.com. Locally, he is a three-time statewide IHSSCA Media Person of the Year; founder of the PepsiCo Showdown, the largest high school sports series in the U.S.; and board member for Buddy’s HELPERS, which engages and educates student athletes about Making A Difference On AND Off The Field.