Potential teachers strike threatens high school football season in Chicago

Chicago Public School officials have a potential problem on their hands. The first day of school across the city is usually the most highly anticipated day of the school year, but when students report to their respective schools next week, they'll do so knowing that teachers in the CPS administration could go on strike on September 10th.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a strike by CPS teachers would be the first in 25 years if they don't reach an agreement on an improved contract. The decision has far-reaching ramifications that could not only hurt the school year, but the athletics season as well. And based on reports, football stands to suffer more than any other sport.

As the Tribune pointed out, unlike a majority of fall sports that could be rescheduled if a strike occurs, losing football practices and game -- which likely would be nearly impossible to reschedule -- could jeopardize not only the regular season, but the possibility of CPS teams reaching the state playoffs.

The Illinois High School Association requires a specific number of wins to be eligible for the playoffs, and if CPS teachers strike, the missed games could end up being the difference between teams being playoff eligible and sitting at home.

"No one will be hurt more by a strike than our children," CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said in a statement on the Tribune's website, "and the potential cancellation of fall sports will negatively impact our student-athletes who not only dedicate countless hours in order to succeed on the field, but also look to sports-based college scholarships to help afford higher education."

Without question, a potential strike could leave CPS football teams in a world of hurt. The good news (if you can call it that when teachers are on the verge of striking) is that the CPS administration is currently in the process of seeking a waiver that would allow teachers to get a workaround to the rule barring them from extracurricular activities during a strike.

The release also says that "the letter further asks for clarification on whether teams can continue to hold practices if a properly credentialed coach is in place to ensure safety. About 90 percent of certified CPS coaches are CTU members and the letter seeks to 'explore an exception that could allow our students to continue with varsity sports in the event of a strike.'"

It's positive news that the Chicago Teachers Union is trying to keep the high school athletics season on track, but the hope at this point should be for a new deal before the September 10th strike date.

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