High School Sports and Violence in Chicago

http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2009/01/visiting-fans-barred-from-high-school-games.html

The past year has been far from a good one for teenagers in Chicago.  The murder rate is high for young children.  Hardly a weekend goes by when another teenager is buried after being shot.

This past weekend, a school in Chicago has seen violence at consecutive basketball games …. one of their players was shot after a game, and yesterday night, a fight broke out on the court after the game.  Amazingly:  the school in question is North Lawndale College Prep;  one of the better schools in the Chicago Public School System.

After this and other problems at games this year, the CPS has decided to take some drastic steps:

1.  All varsity games will start at 4 pm.  This is to keep the number of fans down, and to get the games over before it gets too late.

2.  Visiting team fans are not welcome.

3.  If there is a history of problems between the two teams, there will be no fans allowed to attend the game.

Imagine that:  no parents allowed!

As a person who has worked football, basketball, wrestling, swimming, etc, etc at high schools for years, I can tell you that there are some parents, and some students who do not “get” what high school athletics is about.  For the most part, they are singled out, ejected, and have been told in no uncertain terms that they have lost their privilege to attend games on campus.  In one case, I know of a parent who attended an away game, and was identified by our administration to the opposing school, who kept a close eye on him until he screwed up, and was ejected.  Football dads, soccer moms …. basketball parents …. I have seen them all.

It is simple:  parents and fans:  you may be trying to make sure your kid knows how much they love you, or you may be trying to attract a lot of attention because you like to draw a lot of attention:  DON’T!!  You are embarassing your kid (you can’t believe how sad it is to see a high school boy cry when he sees mom hauled out of the gym.

Now having said that the bad apples are the distinct vocal minority, I agree with the CPS and their extreme measures.  Why?  The CPS does not have the personnel to provide adequate security at games when the troublemaker minority is a little bigger than at most schools.  When you are overmatched, you have to sometimes take extreme measures, and I think that is where the CPS is at.

There is something of a conundrum that has not come to pass yet, but soon might:

We are currently in the heart of conference play, so the Chicago Public Schools are all playing themselves.  However, as February rolls in, this will change.  When the State playoffs start, some Chicago Public Schools are scheduled to host suburban schools in the state playoffs.  Some of those state playoff games will certainly be the last game in the high school career of a lot of players.  Suburban parents may be currently shrugging their shuolders and saying “what do you expect from City kids”, but that could be an issue when they are the visiting parents not invited to attend their son/daughter’s game.

Time will tell how this sad state of affairs plays out.

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