LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The air was cold, and crisp, during the second ‘Let Them Play’ rally outside the Michigan State Capitol. The scene was all too familiar, as parents, athletes, and coaches once more expressed their desire for high school sports to make its return. The first rally took place on August 28th and the goal then, is the same goal now.
Friday afternoon’s rally comes after Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended the pause on high school sports until December 20th.
The message from those who spoke at the rally was to resume playing high school sports and complete the fall playoff tournaments for volleyball, girls swimming and diving, and football. Those who spoke at the rally shared the negative impacts not playing sports has on the mental health of athletes.
When speaking with Mason High School’s head football coach, Gary Houghton, he shared why it was important for him to attend the rally.
“This is about the kids and their mental health and how important that is,” said Houghton. “We completely understand that this pandemic is deadly serious, but the science indicates that our athletics in high school are not spreading the virus.”
Houghton referred to a study from the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association during his speech at the rally in which the findings suggest that “participation in sports is not associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 among Wisconsin high school student-athletes.”
DeWitt senior linebacker, Jake Beachnau, also referred to scientific findings when telling us what he hopes comes from the rally.
“I really hope they just take a look at the data and just see that between teams, and amongst a team itself, that COVID is not being spread whether indoor with volleyball, or swim, or outdoor with football, soccer, cross country ext.,” said Beachnau. “It just doesn’t feel right that we don’t get to finish what we started.”
The earliest high school sports may resume is December 20th and the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Representative Council is set to meet on December 16th to come up with another plan for high school sports to safely resume.