The Chicago Hope Academy had a second high school from outside of the city of Chicago forfeit a game rather than travel to the Altgeld Park field, citing safety reasons, according to Matthew Walberg, William Lee and Gregory Pratt of the Chicago Tribune.
Bishop McNamara forfeited their game against Hope Academy on Friday night, after Wheaton's St. Francis High School did the same in early October.
"I don't want to judge them, but if it were the reverse, we'd come to their place no matter what," Hope Academy founder Bob Muzikowski told the Chicago Tribune. "Maybe we're not reading the same Bible. There's 'do not fear' all over it. I said it to both of the heads of (St. Francis and Bishop McNamara)—we had had an opportunity to do something great and they chose not to do it."
St. Francis chose to forfeit a week after gunfire in the vicinity of Altgeld Park interrupted the game between Hope Academy and Providence Catholic. While Muzikowski noted that the shooting wasn't directed at Hope Academy students, "Chicago police records show that in 2017, there have been three shootings, one fatal, in the square mile surrounding the field," per the Chicago Tribune.
Bishop McNamara Principal Terry Granger said that the school spoke with Hope Academy about either hosting the game, playing at a neutral site or moving the game time to either Thursday or Friday afternoon or Saturday morning at Altgeld Park, per the report.
The schools couldn't agree on a neutral site, however, and Muzikowski said he didn't want to send the wrong message by moving the game.
"If we go down to [Bishop McNamara's] place, it's 'Where you live is good, where we live is bad,'" he noted. "My kids go to Hope. Our Christianity is actually a little radical—we think you should go where it’s bad."
Hope Academy Principal Alyssa Dons also spoke out against the forfeiture.
"(It) was impactful for the boys because they were really starting to feel like it was their fault: 'We aren't like that; why are they afraid of us?'"
"People are afraid to go into other neighborhoods, or just two blocks down," she continued. "Why? There are good people here. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people in this neighborhood are amazing. But what gets known is that 0.1 percent that causes trouble. That's not the norm."