Hundreds protest at MI Capitol to ‘Let Them Play’

Coronavirus

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of student athletes, parents and coaches gathered at the Michigan State Capitol on Saturday to protest the current ban on winter sports.

“It’s hard on us for like our mental state and everything,” said Zach Dodson, a senior hockey player at Grand Rapids Christian High School.

Hundreds gather in Lansing for the "Let Them Play" rally on Jan. 30, 2021. 
Hundreds gather in Lansing for the “Let Them Play” rally on Jan. 30, 2021.

“I hope that our voices don’t fall on deaf ears,” said Justin Reuter, a parent of Forest Hills Public Schools.

“The kids who stay in the ghettos and all of that, it creates a way out for them,” said Tyler McClain, a ninth grader at Kalamazoo Central High School.

People gather for the "Let Them Play" rally in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021. 
People gather for the “Let Them Play” rally& in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021.

McClain says not being able to play sports right now because of the pandemic is doing more harm than good.

“There’s a lot of kids who feel like they don’t have a way out anymore and they might have to rely on other stuff that is like not good for them,” said McClain.

“It’s really just a big stress reliever, being able to go out and skate and really just take your mind off of everything,” said Dodson.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services banned winter sports in the state through Feb. 21, citing COVID-19 concerns. Officials say heavy breathing and close contact in a room for a long time will increase the chance of spreading the virus.

People gather for the "Let Them Play" rally in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021. 
People gather for the “Let Them Play” rally in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021.

Looking forward, these athletes and parents hope this date gets pushed up sooner.

“Hopefully these voices will help them remember how important those things are,” said Reuter.

People gather for the "Let Them Play" rally in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021. 
People gather for the “Let Them Play” rally in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association also spoke out on Friday about this issue

Officials with MHSAA want the state to resume the four main contact sports earlier than Feb. 21 as well. This includes basketball, wrestling, hockey and competitive cheer.

Former Red Wings forward  Darren McCarty speaks at "Let Them Play" rally in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021. 
Former Red Wings forward Darren McCarty speaks at “Let Them Play” rally in Lansing on Jan. 30, 2021.

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