Opinion: Where’s our gridiron, Harper?


Football games under those famous Friday night lights are a major community builder for high schools and colleges nationwide. That used to be the case and Harper, too — so maybe it’s about time for a comeback? (Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk on Flickr)

Ah yes, Friday night lights. Football season is one of the most anticipated, most energetic and most exciting times during your high school career. There was always something to do, whether it was making new friends, cheering on your friends playing in the game, or even wearing the most outrageous outfits to show off your school spirit in bead necklaces, tutus and face paint. 

Many players go to colleges to pursue football and expect the same ambiance and atmosphere on their respective college campuses. 

But not at Harper College, sadly.  

On January 18th, 2012, Harper College had decided to discontinue and brought their football program to a close. The problems with needing to end the program was due to budget issues, low enrollment and scheduling difficulties. Now, all bragging rights go to the best (and only) DIII NJCAA team in Illinois— College of DuPage Chaparrals.

Harper actually had a successful football program going for them. Around the early 2000’s, the Harper Hawks had won 3 NJCAA championships: 2003, 2004 and 2008. Very impressive for there being only 98 other teams in the DIII NJCAA in a 6 year span. 

I believe it’s not too late for Harper to dip their toes in the water and see if football is worth bringing back. If the issue is that the administration doesn’t think the student interest is there anymore, the school could at least run a poll on how many students would actually be interested in joining the team again. 

Mark Williams, a Harper Hawk alumni who had played linebacker for the team from 2010-2012, was devastated when he heard the news of the program’s closing. The prospect of playing for the Hawks drew him all the way from the south side of Chicago. 

“I definitely would have gone somewhere closer to home if it hadn’t been for the football program,” Williams said. 

I for one would love to join the football team, I played all 4 years of high school and anticipated to join in college. The biggest reason was to stay in shape, but also the joy of continuing to play. But I was not the only one. Including myself, there were about 6 other football players in the class of 2020 that enrolled at Harper College after attending Rolling Meadows High School – just a seven minute drive from campus.

If that is just 6 players from one high school, think about adding Hersey, Mt. Prospect, Elk Grove, Buffalo Grove, Wheeling, Schaumburg, Palatine, Hoffman Estates and Barrington?

Many student athletes dream of playing football in big name colleges but could not even think about it due to tuition. Thankfully, Harper’s tuition is only $7k after aid. That is quite a relief compared to trying to play football at Northwestern, which according to Northwestern’s admissions, is roughly $62k, excluding books. dorms and transportation. This is why many ex-football players would join Harper’s program, solely on tuition prices. 

Regarding the budget issue, there should be fundraisers held to raise a significant amount of money for the program. That was the main source of money that was spent on the football program in Rolling Meadows. Harper’s community holds all kinds of fundraisers for programs offered on campus. 

It has been 10 years since Harper has had a football team. Times are changing. There should be a new recorded survey to see how many current students are in/out of the district and find out if they are willing to still be part of the team. When money is an issue, all the participating players can start a fundraiser to raise enough money to get the program back on their feet. Football is a fan favorite that will bring students together to break their social border and make friends at the games. 

To put a cherry on top, it would be very exciting to bring back a good old crosstown classic game playing against the College of DuPage Chaparrals.