IHSA Suspends North Chicago Football Program

On September 4, 2009, a Friday night football game culminated into an all out brawl resulting in the cancellation of the remainder of the game, and North Chicago officials say they responded this week by doling out discipline. According to both Kozlowski and North Chicago principal Daniel McDermott, a number of North Chicago players have been suspended from school, although they declined to specify how many were disciplined or how long the suspensions would last.

North Chicago varsity football coach Glen Kozlowski said at a news conference Thursday that the fight erupted after a North Chicago tackler hit a Simeon player late.

“One of our players did it,” said Kozlowski, a former Chicago Bears player. “Their kid turned around and hit one of ours.”

north-chicago-il
My Two Cents

It’s sad that something like this happened in a place like North Chicago. I attended North Chicago High School for 3 years and was actively involved in sports on all levels until graduation. It wasn’t some “Dangerous Minds” sort of atmosphere where you were watching your back in fear of violence from gangs and bullies, or where it was not cool to be book smart. I remember rumors and falsehoods that ran rampart about our students and athletes. Thugs, gang-bangers, future welfare-queens, military brats, you name it – we were called it. No distinctions were made when it came time to play sports against other schools in our conference. There was a very low level of respect shown from some schools, in fact; specifically schools with a white majority in stark contract to North Chicago’s black majority student population. However, this was the exception to the rule and our biggest rouse. One of my best friends attended Lake Forest High School; a wealthy, affluent suburb along the north lake-shore and we played each other in high school sports regularly. We co-existed and competed on a level where there was honor in being an athlete and respect shown by way of sportsmanship. This brings me back to the football teams current, indefinite suspension, which I suspect will be lifted at some point. This latest incident is something we can only blame on ourselves.  The guilt and shame that has followed is now blasting a negative light onto the community nationwide.   

Who Is To Blame, besides the athletes involved?

Are the administrators, principal, school board, or the coach to blame? What about the athletic director?

The Athletic Director:

Oh, that’s right; North Chicago doesn’t have an athletic director, at least not on paper. The title that the “athletic director” was given is athletic manager. As it turns out, the current athletic manager does not have the necessary credentials or education to assume the role of the Athletic Director. So, the administration revised the title that allows him to carry out the tasks of the Athletic Director anyway.

The Principle:

He’s rumored to be a crackhead. Allegedly. But seriously, the principle has a history of making poor decisions and being slightly ineffective at his job.  For example, a student was expelled from a lake county area high school due to a weapons violation. This young man was allowed to enroll at North Chicago High School following his expulsion. He was then allowed to play on the basketball team at No-Go even though the school plays in the same conference as the school that expelled him. This was eventually found out and as you could imagine, he is no longer playing on the basketball team or attending North Chicago high school.

According to North Chicago’s own school policy:

If you transfer attendance from one school to another while you are ineligible for any reason, the period of ineligibility imposed prior to your transfer or the period of ineligibility that would have been imposed had you stayed at the school, will be enforced at the school to which you transfer, even if you are otherwise in compliance with the by-laws. Any questions about your eligibility in any of these instances must be resolved by a formal ruling from the IHSA Executive Director.”

You’d think that they’d deal with expulsions from neighboring school districts on a whole other, far more serious level. What’s the sense in having policies if they will not be upheld?

The School Board and Superintendent:

They take impunity and apathy to differing extremes. They are not consistent in anything. The school board allows inadequacy and ineptness to permeate all levels of school administration. Where were the deans, security guards, and undercover police officers on hand to cover a night game against a south side Chicago high school with a reputation for extra aggressive game play? There is only one dean currently employed at the high school unless they approved another one last night. The North Chicago School Board and their super lax policies on student discipline in general is starting to catch up to them. There seems to be no “fear factor” in play for the students, no regard for the repercussions or the reputation of the community they’ve effectively worsened. The players involved in the fight are lucky they weren’t arrested or worse, injured in the fray. The police department is not releasing any information, which is more for their protection than anyone else’s, I’m guessing. There were no arrests made, but there are vast reports of sickening mob like actions such as multiple players surrounding a Simeon player and kicking/stomping him in the head repeatedly. What happened to zero-tolerance? Perhaps it’s one of those things being addressed on the hush-hush.

The superintendent is rumored to be a drunk. Allegedly. Enough said. Now peep this:

 A Zero Tolerance Policy will be enforced for students who commit acts of misconduct which seriously disrupt the orderly educational process.

There is a lot at stake for the senior football players and I honestly feel for them.

I feel more for the other players not involved in any way, yet who will suffer the consequences of others actions. They likely understand that there is no place for this kind of conduct in a school or athletic setting, period. No exceptions. However, the punishments dolled out to the lower level football programs are saddening to say the least. I hope they are lifted, and soon. But, ultimately, you win as a team you lose as a team. I feel the IHSA has ruled in the best interests for all involved for now, but I also think their needs to be a review of the suspension of the football programs that were not involved in the fighting.

It’s time we went back to upholding sportsmanlike behavior. Football is a very aggressive, inherently violent sport that can be played with manners, believe it or not. Football runs in my family, it’s in my blood, and I was always taught to respect not only the other players, but most importantly you respect the game. We have people in congress like Senator Joe Wilson and Representative John Shimkus who cannot be counted as role models, but it’s nice to see the head coach and a number of courageous student athletes taking a firm stand and coming forward. These students are not criminals; they are athletes who made a life changing mistake, yet how are they to learn and grow from this incident if they have such poor administrative examples of what it takes to be a responsible member of society, especially in the school setting.

North Chicago’s High School community board members need to be kicked in the head, for starters. For not holding people accountable for their jobs and their actions, and not allowing the tax payers to hold you accountable for yours. The politics are played out and the lowered standards that you’ve imposed upon this school district for years has run its course. Our students are our future. Yet you repeatedly punish the administrators WHO DO CARE. Step your game up. 

Student and Athlete Comments and Reactions:
 
daelane shackleford on September 9, 2009 2:47 PM said “i am a student attending north chicago highschool also a member of the team who was involved in the brutal altercation taken place on friday. speaking on the behalf of my team, i am truly sorry for the way we handled the situation. it could have been easily isolated but our childish ways became a much larger problem than we could handle. believe me when i say we will be punished for our actions and from now on we will act as a civilized and organized football team. and if were treated unfare because of our past we will be men about it. thank you and have a blessed day.”

 Ashley on September 5, 2009 4:45 PM  said “I AM A STUDENT OF THE NORTH CHICAGO HIGH SCHOOL AND I WAS AT THE GAME. IT WAS A BIG RIOT. IT WAS VERY EMBARRASING TO WATCH. THERE WERE RUMORS OF COLLEGE SCOUTS BEING THERE AND THEY WERE VERY SHOCKED AT THE INCIDENT. NORTH CHICAGO ALREADY HAS A REPUTATION AND I WAS JUST SO ASHAMED OF OUR PLAYERS BECAUSE WE SUPPORT THEM 100% ALL THE TIME.”

Tevin on September 5, 2009 10:49 PM said “I AM A MEMEBER OF NORTH CHICAGO’S VARSITY TEAM WHO WAS INVOLVED IN THE INCIDENT THAT TOOK PLACE ON FRIDAY AND WITH THAT BEING SAID ON BEHALF OF MY FELLOW TEAMMATES I APOLOGIZE TO SIMEON, TO THE FANS AND TO OUR COMMUNITY. THE INCIDENT STARTED FROM FRUSTRATION ON OUR PART AND ESCALADED INTO SOMETHING WE COULDN’T CONTROL,BUT THAT IS STILL NO REASON IT SHOULD HAVE TAKEN PLACE. SIMEON ARE GREAT OPPONENTS AND OUR FANS ARE GREAT SUPPORTERS AND THIS KIND OF ALTARCATION WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN. WE GET ENOUGH BAD PRESS AS IT IS WE REALLY DONT NO ANY MORE THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ THIS.”

Thank you for showing a level of maturity that should be expected after poor choices and terrible mistakes are made. My hat goes off to these students and athletes for weighing in on a very important issue.   

Comments

comments

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!