Kara Spak and Steve Tucker, Chicago Sun-Times, January 24, 2009
The home-court advantage has grown significantly stronger at Chicago Public Schools basketball games.
CPS officials don’t want students rooting for their teams at away games unless they are traveling with a specific, chaperoned group, like cheerleaders. This comes after four violent incidents at recent CPS basketball games, two involving gunfire.
Jan. 9 Five teenage boys were shot outside Dunbar Vocational Career Academy after a Friday night game against Hope College Prep High School.
Jan. 20 A game between Simeon Career Academy and Bogan Computer Technical High School ended with 5:55 left after a fight erupted in the stands.
Jan. 20 Jermaine Winfield, a North Lawndale College Prep senior on the basketball team, was shot in the thigh outside Collins High School following a game. Winfield was trying to break up a fight.
Jan. 22 Two teenage girls reportedly started an on-court brawl after North Lawndale College Prep’s win over Marshall Metro High School. Security escorted players into the locker room for safety.
All varsity start times have been moved to 4 p.m. to try to stop the violent brawls marking crowd behavior at several games.
Davis wouldn’t specify which schools the policy targets but said most CPS basketball games are incident-free. Michael Vaughn, CPS spokesman, said “everyone knows where the issues are” when asked which schools were affected.
“I don’t think this is a sports problem. I think it’s a community problem,” he said. He later said he thinks the incidents this year stemmed from “pre-existing conflicts in the community.”
Simeon Career Academy basketball coach Robert Smith said his school has always started varsity games at 4 p.m., with good reason.
“We are in a crisis situation,” he said. “We have to get to the core of what this is all about, and it’s not just schools. It’s about what’s happening in society. Families are losing their jobs, getting displaced, and there’s a lot of anger.”