Protesters gather outside Michigan Capitol for ’Let Them Play’ rally aimed at allowing high school sports

Parents, coaches, players gather

A protest was held in Lansing aiming to allow high school sports to continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

LANSING, Mich. – More than 100 parents, players and coaches rallied in Lansing on Friday to protest against an executive order.

The rally was organized by the group Let Michigan Football Play. Another group, Let Them Play also participated in the rally. The name became a common cheer during the rally.

Currently under an order signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer all sports have been halted unless they can be played outdoors and socially distant. Currently, only outdoor swimming, volleyball and some running sports fall outside the scope of the order.

READ: Michigan High School Athletic Association cancels fall football season due to coronavirus

Two 16-year-old students named Aiden Dale and Max Jones came from Macomb Township to plead for their football season to be given the green light.

“I’ve been playing football for years and it’s just something I love to do,” Dale said. “I wrestle too and I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t play sports.” Both he and Jones play for Dakota High School as a middle linebacker and a free safety, respectively.

READ: Detroit public schools superintendent asks Michigan Gov. Whitmer to reinstate high school football

“All of these sports are in jeopardy and we’re not whiny and it’s not about me watching sports. It’s about the overall impact of shutting down the lack of social interaction with these kids upon them mentally,” said rally co-organizer Mark Hall.

However, not all school leaders and coaches share the rally goers ire for the governor. In a letter Friday to the Michigan High School Sports Association, Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti told the MHSSA, “it is not too late to restart the season.”

Vitti blames the MHSSA for the lack of a season this fall saying the sports organization shifted the responsibility to Whitmer and are hiding behind her executive order. Vitti believes the MHSSA should urge the governor to make more clear distinctions for different sports, particularly football which has been tentatively moved to a spring season.

“Shorten the season as you would in the spring...I struggle to understand what could be different in the spring that would allow the season to be played instead of now,” Vitti wrote.

His letter was co-signed by 13 DPSCD coaches.

Parents and players were also dubious of the plan to move the season to the spring. One speaker at the rally pointed out those teams in the UP would likely still have snow on the ground for the season.

“I don’t know they just keep moving it back, it’s just like I don’t know when we’re going to get to play,” Jones said.

READ: More high school sports coverage

About the Author:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.