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Student Athletes Worried About Strike Impact On Playoff Chances

CHICAGO (CBS)-- When the teachers hit the picket line on Thursday morning, student athletes will not only be forced out of the classroom, but sidelined from sports.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, a football game held Wednesday night at Gately Stadium, 744 E. 103rd St., was originally scheduled for Friday. But it was moved up so that students could play before the strike.

But athletes are still in limbo, depending on how long the strike goes on.

At Eric Solorio Academy High School in Gage Park, the Warriors are worrying.

"I never really thought that a strike or something like this was going to happen to affect my season," said senior Rafael Sota.

The Warriors boys' varsity soccer team is ranked number one. But when CTU hits the picket line, the players might as well stop kicking and pick up the ball, because they will be ineligible for the playoffs.

"All this hard work for what? To be stopped like all of sudden? It's pretty sad," said senior Alex Sanchez.

It is especially hard for Sanchez, who is an All-American recruit.

"If we don't get to play, then that's less games for us for the scouts to see us," he said.

But this strike will do more than keep the athletes from scoring goals. Take Sota – no classes keep him with no internet access, and he needs to meet scholarship application deadlines.

"I won't really have access to anything, so I can't really finish my applications, and for the college scouts, it could really affect whether or not I get scholarships for college," he said.

Their coach believes the union, while fighting, failed to consider what's at stake for all CPS athletes.

"There's very few coaches that are union delegates, so I'm sure they didn't get to hear our voices," said Coach Andrian Calleros.

Back at Gately Stadium, Simeon Career Academy is only two games away from playing for the state title. Parents hope the strike will be short, and the Wolverines won't get sacked.

"I am very, very hopeful and I trust that Dr. Jackson and Mayor Lightfoot and the Teachers Union will come to an agreement so that the soccer team can get back to playing, and the football team can continue to do their season and do well," said Simeon parent Kenyatta Starks.

A game between Whitney M. Young Magnet High School and Dunbar Vocational Career Academy was also moved 48 hours due to the strike. The game location was also moved – it became the first ever game at the new $4 million Michelle Obama Athletic Complex.

They have lights and refs, but no stands for fans, that's how much of a scramble this was.

For so many players who've worked for months, only to have their playoff hopes put in jeopardy, the strike stings.

Having the contract expire mid-school year is part of the political posturing between the city and the teachers union, but for kids and families, the timing is brutal.

"It feels really unfair, it's like we have no choice in this. We have nothing that we can do, just come out here, play hard, go 100% and hope for the best," Whitney Young football player Jahari Walker said.

The strike must be over by Oct. 29 in order for CPS football teams to avoid forfeiting.

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