For the second time in the last month, Hope Academy in Chicago won a varsity football game by forfeit because the opposing team’s school leadership refused to come into the city to play a Friday night game near the scene of a shooting that interrupted a football game earlier this season.
The school ends the regular season with a 7-2 record, with two of those victories coming in forfeits over safety concerns on the part of opponents, and the Illinois High School Association is expected to announce tonight that the team has clinched a playoff berth. (All teams that win six or more games in the regular season qualify for the football playoffs.)
On October 6, St Francis High School in west-suburban Wheaton forfeited the game, which was to be played at Altgeld Park. Yesterday Bishop McNamara High School in downstate Kankakee forfeited, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The reason St Francis forfeited was reportedly that a game a week earlier between Hope and Providence Catholic High School in southwest-suburban New Lenox was interrupted by gunfire, which occurred away from the field, shortly after kickoff.
“Out of concern for students at both schools, we decided to forfeit the game,” St Francis President Tim Bednar said at the time.
This week, the Tribune quoted McNamara Principal Terry Granger as expressing similar concerns: “After extensive consideration and meetings with parents and coaches, Bishop McNamara Catholic School has decided to abstain from participating in the October 20 football game against Hope Academy due to safety concerns. Student and fan safety is always our No 1 priority during athletic competitions.”
Although it is disappointing that the football game won’t be played, it’s just a game. The decision to forfeit fell upon Bishop McNamara and on them alone. No one can second-guess that decision after the fact. Football just isn’t as important as student safety.
From the Christian Bible:
The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. (Proverbs 22:3)
“You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to Jesus, “and you have seen Abraham!” — “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John 8:57-59)
Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. (John 12:35-36)
Playoff brackets announced
In related news, the Illinois High School Association posted the brackets for the football playoffs and state championship in the eight enrollment classes this evening.
For the record, Hope Academy, a private Christian school, is scheduled to play a Class 2A game against Orr High School, a public school in Chicago, next weekend. Although both teams are from Chicago, the game’s a home game for Hope Academy. Neither Bishop McNamara (3-6) nor St Francis (1-8) made the playoff cut in their respective classes.