Friday, February 28, 2020
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1 game interrupted by gunfire, next 1 cancelled

Please don’t fire weapons anywhere near a high school football game. You can boo the players if you want to be unsportsmanlike. You can taunt them if you want to embarrass yourself. You can even call their fans names if you want to be inhospitable. But, please, don’t pull out your gun.

Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago (Chicago Crime Scenes / Flickr CC)

The boys’ varsity football team at St Francis High School decided it would forfeit tonight’s game against Hope Academy on Chicago’s West Side, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Tom Bednar, the president of St Francis High School, made that announcement after considering last Friday’s game between Hope Academy and Providence Catholic High School. Providence eventually won the game, 56-14, but just a few minutes after kickoff, gunfire nearby, completely unconnected with the game, interrupted play. A 36-year-old man was injured in what appears to have been a drive-by shooting.

Unfortunately, this week is Hope Academy’s homecoming, and playing the game in Wheaton or at a neutral site, while it was discussed, just wasn’t going to work out.

Given the two teams’ records—1-5 for St Francis, 4-2 for Chicago Hope—prospects for a homecoming victory were looking up. That will be the eventual result posted in the record books: a win by forfeit for Chicago Hope. The game just won’t actually be played.

“Out of concern for students at both schools, we decided to forfeit the game,” Mr Bednar was quoted as saying.

“We’re not going to be run off by the punks,” the Tribune quoted Bob Muzikowski, Hope Academy’s founder, as saying. “You can’t start that precedent, or no one will play us.”

With Chicago Hope’s win tonight, the team will need just one more win in the last two weeks to clinch a playoff berth. Illinois High School Association executive director Craig Anderson told the paper he wouldn’t ask the school to move any scheduled home games out of Chicago during the playoffs.

“We know that it is impossible to 100 percent guarantee the safety of any event,” he said. “But I am very confident in the measures Hope Academy would have taken for (the St Francis game), as well as for any future games they will host.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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