CornerKICKS: Leave it up to the adults to ruin it for the kids

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Joe Trost, columnist for #PrepSportsReport

Leave it up to the adults to ruin it for the kids.

Don’t worry: I know I used the same opening line as the headline. I just want you to remember that line as you read on.

A powerful appeal to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) “strike policy” was filed late Sunday, and IHSA spokesman Matt Troha responded quickly to media inquiries with a statement from executive director Craig Anderson late Sunday night.

The key portion was this from Anderson: “Our board of directors is unlikely to hear the appeal while the strike is ongoing as it appears the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) does not plan to allow for participation during the strike. As we look toward the future, there are clear guidelines in place for IHSA member schools to be able to impact change in IHSA by-laws and policy.”

With all due respect to Anderson, the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) strike and what CPS decides to do with its games after an appeal has no barring on the appeal process, especially one that is clearly stated right HERE.

The important details from that link: If a member school submits an appeal of an executive director’s decision, it must be submitted to the board of directors – aka known in Sunday’s column as the soon-to-be-famous 11 – and hearing held in a timely matter if it’s time sensitive.

So now the ping pong ball caught in the middle full of kids, who just want to play a game they love, was bounced back to CPS.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson became the first CPS representative to come out and publicly say why CPS will keep its student athletes off the field during the ongoing CTU strike.

“I don’t want to put students in harms way by having them compete when we don’t have enough staff and people to make sure it’s safe for them and the spectators,” Jackson said.

Why CPS sports administration officials didn’t tell that to coaches and principals prior, we may never know. While many had hoped the CTU strike would end this past weekend, CPS student athletes and their families have been watching their seasons – and playing careers in some cases – die in heart-breaking fashion.

“Our school was the last CPS team standing in all of Class 1A,” Marine senior Clever Zambrano wrote to me on Monday. “We have been removed from the competition due to the strike, and our season has ended in the worst way possible. If the strike policy appeal goes through, is it not reasonable that we have our game rescheduled?”

With the fall season coming to an end, a few sports remain – with only the varsity level competing in the state series. So it’s not like there are 10 sports with three levels going on at every CPS school right now. Many varsity teams have non-union coaches, while others have union coaches. While a large number of coaches were willing to coach their teams in the state series, there are non-union coaches at some level in each program that could fill the openings.

CPS buildings also are open during the CTU strike and there are administrators working – many of whom are former coaches ready to step up. I even had calls, emails and texts from suburban coaches who said they would be willing to step up for CPS players and teams.

This story is the talk of Chicago. Turn on any news channel, checkout social media or read the editorials that have run in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. People throughout Illinois have seen the impact, and news outlets across the country have started to air stories. Barring a miracle, the forfeits begin on Tuesday. There could be even more on Wednesday.

While public comment from Jackson may not replace games or careers like Zambrano’s, it does at least provide a basic reason why games can’t be played during the CTU strike.

But here’s the massive kick in the gut. Imagine if you are at Lane and Solorio, for example, two IHSA regional hosts. Imagine hosting a regional, but not being able to play in it.

Let that sink in for a second.

Late this afternoon, Anderson noted to the member schools who filed the official appeal: “If the strike should be settled (Monday) or (Tuesday), the IHSA Board of Directors may consider hearing your appeal. Only with a favorable ruling from the IHSA Board of Directors on appeal following the strike settlement might the teams be reinstated to participate in the IHSA State Series.”

The word “may” shouldn’t be there. If CTU and CPS settle, the appeal should be heard immediately – just as the IHSA appeal process states.

But before I go, I just want to say congrats to Saint Ignatius, which is set to become the first-ever Class 3A regional champion without playing a game.

Can’t wait to see where the school hangs that plaque it didn’t earn.

Kind of rough, hu? Don’t like that statement?

That’s reality, folks.

That’s how people are going to talk about this state series now for the next three weeks and at the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association (IHSSCA) banquet.

No matter who wins, the 2019 boys soccer state series competition will always be remembered as the event where ***only two-thirds of Illinois competed.

And you’re right, I know what you’re thinking – the kids and teams remaining in the state series competition didn’t do anything to deserve that comment.

You’re 100 percent right.

But now you kind of know how nearly 100 boys soccer teams and 1,000s of players from Chicago feel at this very moment as their seasons – and many careers – die a slow death in the boardroom.

Leave it up to the adults to ruin it for the kids.

CornerKICKS (normally) appears on Sundays. Contact Joe Trost at joetrost@gmail.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.

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