Thirty-eight states are allowing high school athletes to compete in winter sports. To help increase those numbers, a movement has spread across those remaining 12 states. This movement is called, “Let Them Play.” Over the past 14 days, athletes protested outside their individual schools in California and Maryland and at state capitals in Michigan and Illinois.
This is not a political movement. It is a bunch of like-minded high school athletes, parents, coaches, educators and politicians banding together on behalf of high school athletes. Their argument is simple:
- The survival rate of individuals under 20 who get this virus and survive is 99.997, which means that out of 100,000 teenagers who get this virus, 3 will die – https://tallahasseereports.com/2020/09/26/cdc-releases-updated-covid-19-fatality-rate-data/. As of the time of writing this, only 1 high school athlete has died in America due to Covid since high schools sports has resumed in the fall.
- The CDC has recently declared that all schools should reopen because the data is showing that kids do not spread the virus in large quantities and asymptomatic spread is not nearly the threat as originally feared – https://eyewire.news/articles/asymptomatic-spread-of-coronavirus-is-very-rare-who-says/. So, if it’s safe to be in the classroom, it is also safe to be on the court/field/pool/track.
- The psychological affects of not playing sports are damaging. Mental health professionals document increased frequency of depression, anxiety and suicide ideation – https://azbigmedia.com/lifestyle/mental-health-issues-spike-in-high-school-athletes-due-to-lack-of-sports-study-shows/. Sports is the place where kids have fun, hang with their friends, find their happiness, compete and for some, earn college scholarships. Protesters argue that depriving kids of their passion for the remote possibility that they could die is not a ‘good enough’ argument.
- Schools officials have put in place safety protocols to do their part to keep kids as safe as possible. This includes masks and now, testing. This will never be 100% effective because most sports require contact, but kids and their parents’ understand the risks. No one is forcing a student to participate in sports. Protesters argue that if a student or a parent is uncomfortable participating, stay home. In 38 states, sports is a choice and it should be in their respective states.
- In spring of 2020, almost all kids were in their homes, social distancing and staying away from friends. With health agencies releasing science and facts, kids understand that they are at low risk. Thus, these kids are hanging out with friends after school in small and large gatherings anyway. These protesters argue that a supervised sports setting with safety protocols is safer than the unsupervised gatherings with no safety protocols.
Joe’s Perspective: I have no voice on this one. I have no skin in the game. I will leave you with the words of parents and students who do.
Eighteen high school athletes spoke at the podium to the 2,000+ people in the audience at the Michigan State Capital. Ryan McNeil, a wrestler at Montrose High School said, “I haven’t even told my parents this, but when sports got taken away from us, I definitely fell into a dark place. I kind of thought that there was nothing left in life for me.”
Shannon Badgero, the girls varsity soccer coach at Tri-Unity Christian said, “I’ve got a senior daughter who has already lost her junior season of soccer and now she’s at risk of losing her senior season of basketball. It’s infuriating at times because these kids are at risk of losing everything they’ve been working for since they were kids and that’s unacceptable in my eyes.”
After the event, parent Jayme McElvany said, “Our hope is that this event shows our state government and the health department that we will do whatever it takes to play sports again. If they heard any of these brave young kids that came up here and spoke today, I don’t know how you can disagree.”
Your Turn: Do you think high school students should be allowed to play sports for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year? Explain your answer.