CPS Fan Restrictions

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Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

While I was standing in the lay-up line during pre-game warm ups at a recent away game at Dyett High School’s gymnasium, something was very different than previous games. My high school basketball team, Wendell Phillips, was playing a game at 3:30 p.m.— an early start time we were not familiar with.

I looked up and around the stands and saw Dyett fans screaming, “Go Eagles,” but not many fans screaming for our team. As I looked further around, I saw a big, empty space that looked as if it could hold a hundred people. In previous games, that space would have been filled with Phillips’ fans. The gym was empty because of a new fan restriction that prohibited fans of the opposing teams from attending games, unless they were pre-approved and screened by the host school.

Calvin Davis, Chicago Public Schools’ director of sports administration, instated this fan restriction the morning after a recent incident at Dunbar Vocational Career Academy.

On the night of Jan. 9, a shooting incident at Dunbar High School occurred. Witnesses said that as some fans began leaving the school grounds during the basketball game, a car drove up. The occupants got out of a truck and started shooting into the crowd. Five people were shot. Three were in serious condition and two in critical.

According to Calvin Davis, the “incident at Dunbar was the breaking point.”

Davis, who was a star basketball player at Dunbar from 1972-76, said during his high school days that the public league games were just as rough as they are today.

He recently told the Chicago Tribune, “It was just as hectic and rowdy when I played […] I can remember a few games where players got into a fight, but there was nothing like the shootings we just had.”

Davis said that although the Dunbar incident triggered the fan restriction, it was not created solely because the shooting happened at his alma mater.

“Though Dunbar is very special to me, it was not the sole reason,” Davis explained. “There had been numerous other incident reports I had received throughout the season that detailed violent incidents that were occurring all around the city. It was time to do something to ensure that athletic contests were safe for spectators and for participants.”

After his swift action, Davis had to answer to many angry fans who did not understand his intentions.

“The biggest misconception during this situation was that there was a fan ban,” said Davis. “Fans were never banned. Schools were asked to screen all spectators, and pre-arrange visiting spectators. All students were also required to produce their student IDs upon entering. Adults were required to sign in and show ID as well.”

Davis says taking these precautions lessened the potential for violence.

“This was designed to screen spectators and organize seating arrangements,” he said. “This made events more organized and safer. Schools had more control because the principal could use discretion when determining who should be allowed to attend.”

Reflecting back on the fan restriction, Davis thinks it was a good move.

“The fan screening, which should have been occurring all along, was extremely successful,” he said. “Since the plan was implemented, there have been zero incidents inside or outside of athletic contests over the last month of the basketball season.”

Doing so, said Davis, was his major plan.

“Stopping the violence by creating a safe, organized environment was my goal. I am proud to say that the impact has been very positive.”

Davis plans on maintaining this positive impact in the future.

“Next year, we will be expecting schools to continue to screen spectators,” he said. “Principals will probably be given the autonomy of playing varsity games as long as they have a solid athletic security plan.”

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Categories: UYIJP