CPS coaches meet to discuss sports stoppage

More than 70 Chicago Public Schools coaches met on a Zoom call Thursday afternoon to discuss the ongoing stoppage of CPS sports.

Young boys basketball coach Tyrone Slaughter organized the call.

“We just discussed what we thought and guys shared their concerns,” Slaughter said. “First and foremost we are worried about the student-athletes. If you are a senior you’ve had the last three seasons interrupted by various issues.”

CPS sports have been shut down since Wednesday. The Chicago Teachers Union voted on Tuesday night to refuse in-person work, defying the district plans because of COVID-19 concerns. CPS responded by canceling all classes, sports and activities.

It’s the third time sports have been disrupted by labor issues in the past 27 months.

“[The coaches] are clearly disappointed, more than upset,” Slaughter said. “They understand there are points on both sides that are legitimate.”

Slaughter’s tone was diplomatic. He said they haven’t discussed any legal options yet. He’s planning another call on Sunday.

“We just want to see if there is anything we can do to help move the conversation between CPS and CTU forward,” Slaughter said.

Parents of cross country athletes at Jones successfully sued the Illinois High School Association and the Chicago Board of Education during the CTU strike in 2019. A judge ruled that the athletes were allowed to compete in the IHSA state tournament despite the IHSA’s rule that athletes must sit out during a strike.

Kenwood basketball coach Mike Irvin was much less diplomatic on Wednesday. Irvin had planned to take his team to the prestigious Highland Shootout in Southern Illinois this weekend.

“We take this seriously and want to be safe,” Irvin said. “But this is all about politics and sports are the only ones taking a hit. The mayor and [CPS CEO Pedro Martinez] need to understand sports is an outlet for these kids. Every time something happens they want to take something way from the kids.”

Most Public League coaches don’t want to comment on the issues between CPS and CTU. It’s obviously a sensitive issue in their workplace. Irvin says he isn’t worried about offending people.

“I’m fighting for my kids,” Irvin said. “These parents are looking for scholarships. They don’t want to pay for college. This tournament this weekend helps them get exposure and it helps them get to school. I’m not saying sports is more important then academics. My team has a 3.0 GPA.”

Irvin works in security at Kenwood. He isn’t in the CTU, but his family has been heavily involved in CPS sports for several generations.

“50 percent of the basketball coaches probably aren’t in the union,” Irvin said. “To conduct a basketball game you need kids, coaches and refs. You don’t need teachers. This doesn’t have anything to do with teachers. They only played 12 games last year and had now playoffs, while most states played full seasons,” Irvin said. “Why are we getting penalized for all this?”

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