On October 25, 2019 the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors heard an appeal via conference call by administrators from Simeon Career Academy High School in Chicago.
Simeon is not currently in session, as defined by th
e Illinois State Board of Education, due to a teacher strike. The appeal centered around two IHSA rules related to the football playoffs.
The first was an appeal of the IHSA Football Terms & Conditions, specifically Section H-4, which covers “Qualifications for Playoffs”.
H-4 reads: “4) A minimum of eight (8) eleven (11)-man varsity games must be played by the conclusion of the ninth (9th) week of the season in order for a school to be considered for selection to a playoff berth. A maximum of nine (9) games may be counted toward the playoffs. A maximum of one (1) game per week may count toward the playoffs, unless exception has been granted by the Executive Director of the IHSA.”
Simeon did not have a week 2 opponent as a result of miscommunication with an anticipated opponent, and did not play in Week 9 due to the strike. They were appealing the eight-game requirement in order to be placed in the IHSA Football Playoff field on Saturday, October 26 based on their six regular-season wins.
Simeon also sought a waiver from the Discontinuation of Football portion of the IHSA Strike Policy, which states: “If football practices have been terminated for a period of at least seven (7) days, but less than fourteen (14) days, a school may not resume competition until after three (3) separate days of practice.”
The Board voted to waive the eight-game requirement for Simeon, and all other impacted schools (Phoenix Military Academy and Chicago Military-Bronzeville), meaning the teams will be eligible to be placed in the 2019 IHSA Football Playoff field on Saturday, October 26.
The Board voted against waiving the three-practice requirement following the conclusion of the strike. As a result, any CPS schools who qualify for the 2019 IHSA Football Playoff field will have to resume practice by Wednesday, October 30 in order to meet the practice acclimatization requirements of the Policy and play their first round playoff games. A first round playoff forfeit will be ruled if they are unable to return to practice by Wednesday, October 30.
“Due to circumstances beyond their control, the three schools in question found themselves lacking the requisite number of games to participate in the State Series despite having otherwise qualified,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Due to these unique circumstances, the Board felt it appropriate to waive the minimum game rule for those impacted schools. The Board did not feel it appropriate to modify the three-practice rule, however. Acclimatization in the sport of football has been a focal point of our Sports Medicine Advisory Committee over the past decade, and the medical professionals who advise us believe it is vital to the safety of our student-athletes. Given how many student-athletes have been negatively impacted by this strike, at the very least, it was a positive to eliminate some of the unknowns as it relates to the timeline for CPS football teams to participate in the IHSA playoffs.”
This appeal ruling adjusts and clarifies certain points regarding the pairing and seeding of Chicago public schools in the IHSA Football Playoffs, which will occur on Saturday, October 26. It does not alter any conditions regarding the ability of those schools to actually participate in the playoffs if the strike is still in effect on the first date of competition in the playoffs (November 1).
“We have received several inquiries about the IHSA Board hearing today’s appeal, while not reviewing a previous soccer appeal request,” said Anderson. “The reasoning is very clear. The previous soccer appeal sought to participate during the strike, which we are simply unable to compromise on due to the safety and liability concerns it places upon on the participating students, schools, host venues, game officials, Chicago Public Schools and the IHSA. The appeal today was related to football playoff qualification rules that are contingent upon participation occurring only after the strike is settled.”