Disabato: Saddened, disgusted by Morgan Park-Simeon melee
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @disabato January 17, 2013 1:14PM
A Morgan Park player is restrained in the aftermath of the Mustangs' loss Wednesday to Simeon at Chicago State. A Morgan Park student was shot and killed in the parking lot after the game. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: February 19, 2013 3:03PM
The look on the face of the Chicago Public Schools official standing on the court while the brawl between Morgan Park and Simeon took place around him Wednesday night is one I’ll never forget.
It wasn’t a look of anger, fear or rage.
It was a look of disgust, sadness.
That, coincidentally, echoed my feelings.
Only after I stepped outside and walked to my car in the parking lot at Chicago State University, site of the game, did fear settle in.
Children crying, adults scurrying for shelter, police cars everywhere.
A student from Morgan Park shot and killed.
At a high school sporting event.
Some have blamed the postgame altercation, which occurred during the obligatory shaking of hands between teams, for the ensuing chaos outside.
But who’s to say some trash-talking in the parking lot over Simeon’s 53-51 victory wouldn’t have escalated to a point in which the same chaos ensued?
That’s all it takes, some words, for thugs to pull a gun on someone.
How disappointing, then, were the words late Wednesday of Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin, spoken with the knowledge that shots had been fired outside the gym?
“(Simeon players) Jaylon Tate and Kendrick Nunn started it,” Irvin said to Sun-Times Media. “I’ll just say that. One of the Simeon players pushed (Morgan Park’s Lamont Walker). They want to fight. That’s just classic Simeon. They think they can get away with everything and do what they want to do.
“We don’t want to do that. We are here to play basketball. I guess their leader thinks it is OK to do that. Which is (Simeon coach) Rob Smith.”
Really, coach? As an educator, how about accepting some responsibility, whatever the size of your piece of that pie? I saw chippiness from both teams during the game. If anything, I’d say Morgan Park, the SouthtownStar’s No. 1 team, was a little more aggressive. And even if the Morgan Park players were goaded during postgame handshakes, they should know better than to retaliate.
Quality coaches demand their players respect every opponent and don’t tolerate such behavior.
But what qualities are on display when Morgan Park plays Simeon?
By the number of student transfers that occur annually at both programs, it’s obvious what matters most: the almighty win.
Don’t believe me?
Here’s another thing Irvin said moments afterward, while dozens of police offers descended on the campus, trying to bring a sense of calm to an out-of-control, dangerous scene.
“We will beat Simeon the next time we play,” he said.
Here’s hoping the next time is in a far different environment. Morgan Park and Simeon no longer should be allowed to play basketball in front of a crowd when competing against each other.
Since the players themselves have no respect for one another, which was demonstrated during Wednesday’s brawl, the privilege of competing in front of spectators should be denied them, just as access to the game should be stripped from undesirables.
Play the game in the home team’s small gym, directly after school, with the doors locked and no one allowed to enter except players, coaches, officials and scoreboard operators.
No support from fans, no words of encouragement from cheerleaders.
Just the sounds of a glorified pick-up game.
The two programs, by way of their actions, don’t deserve the additional exposure.
This wasn’t the first time an incident between the two Vincennes Avenue neighboring schools has occurred. A football game last season at Gately Stadium was suspended after gunshots reportedly were fired in the bleachers.
So what does CPS do? It allows Wednesday’s game, initially scheduled for Morgan Park High School, to be moved to a larger venue, Chicago State, to accommodate demand.
Me-TV broadcast the game live, offering another avenue to showcase two of the top teams in the state.
And, of course, it was a way for Chicago State to showcase its magnificent arena.
Instead, it showcased the sign of the times.