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Saturday, March 2

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Basketball Tue Apr 08 2008

NCAA Finals End, But For CPS Life Goes On...

You want it to mean something more. You want it to be some sort of signal that things are changing, that there is hope, that we have reached a turning point and people will see that things can be different.

You know it probably won’t change things, cynic that you are. That it will take something other than a basketball game, even an NCAA title game, to stem the tide of violence and murder. Still, you kinda hope.

When former Crane star Sherron Collins met former Simeon star Derrick Rose on the court in the NCAA finals Monday night, it was possibly the only bright spot for the Chicago Public Schools in quite some time, a bright spot that they sorely needed. Suffice to say, it’s been a rough year.

As of Tuesday, 23 Chicago Public School students have died from street violence since September, 20 of those from gunshots. Both of the CPS schools represented in the title game have been hit by tragedy. Two weeks ago, Simeon student Chavez Clark was shot to death in the school’s parking lot. A month earlier, Crane’s Ruben Ivy was also gunned down.

But Monday night, the only apparent shooting involving someone with a CPS connection came from Kansas’ Rose and Memphis’ Collins, who put up 11 points and 18 points respectively in the Kansas’ 75-68 overtime victory over Memphis. It was Collins’ pass to teammate Mario Chalmers, who sank a three-pointer with two seconds left in regulation, which kept the Jayhawks alive. Rose propelled Memphis by scoring 15 of his 18 points in the second half to keep the Tigers within striking distance.

The significance of having two former CPS students in the tourney wasn’t lost on public school officials. They arranged to have the two teams’ games in the Final Four televised on big screens in the respective schools’ auditoriums. It was a way to get the minds of students and parents alike off the recent tragedies. Who knows, perhaps they were hoping it might also offer a glimmer of hope to students weary of the tension of just going to and from classes, that it might show that there is the possibility of surviving and thriving.

As “epic” as the game was though, you are stuck with the reality that it was just a basketball game. But you want it to mean something more. At least for a little while.

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