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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.