Michigan lawmaker bombarded with calls demanding restart of high school sports

High school sports put on pause in Michigan due to coronavirus surge

Michigan lawmaker receiving several calls demanding restart of high school sports

Michigan parents are in the process of filing a lawsuit against the state over the current pause on high school sports amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With high school sports on hold in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID, Michigan Representative Joseph Bellino says parents are constantly reaching out in hopes of getting their student athletes back into the game.

“I know that people are fired up -- my phone started blowing up last weekend, my social media is blowing up, my text messages. Parents are fired up,” Bellino said. “Our parents have seniors, so this is their last chance to play ball. A few have scholarship opportunities ... it’s part of the health and the welfare of the kids.”

More: Michigan parents set to file lawsuit demanding restart of high school sports

As coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths rose rapidly at the end of 2020, high school sports were put on pause in Michigan to help curb virus spread. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging schools to resume in-person learning by March 1, and has extended the pause on high school sports until at least Feb. 21 under Michigan’s latest epidemic order.

Several parents argue that the pause on sports is negatively affecting their children. Parent Jayme McElvany started Let Them Play Inc. -- the group leading the lawsuit against the state of Michigan.

“It’s not just to get sports back, it’s to open the eyes to the people making these laws that the mental health state of these kids is drastically being affected, and we can’t ignore it any longer,” McElvany said of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is still in the process of being filed, and Rep. Bellino says he is unsure of the route that will be taken. Either way, the representative argues that it is possible for students to stay safe while participating in athletic programs.

“I have no idea where they’re going with that and what they’re trying to do,” Bellino said.

“We’ve already shown in the state that with proper protocols, with testing, we can play sports without outbreaks,” he added.

The superintended of Detroit schools, Nikolai Vitti, has been sending a similar message. In a recent letter to Gov. Whitmer, Vitti is urging the state to resume winter contact sports for high schoolers, asking her to “keep it consistent” with reopening schools.

“Most of us supported the suspension of winter sports in November and December, but that delay now is unnecessary and causing undue harm to our student-athletes,” Vitti wrote. “Our families have analyzed the risk of playing and they want to play.

“The continuing suspension of winter ‘contact’ sports contradicts the message that it is safe to return to in-person learning,” Vitti added. “One only needs to ask any winter ‘contact’ sport athlete and they will tell you we are sending mixed and contradictory messages to them.”

More: Detroit schools superintendent urges Whitmer to resume high school contact sports

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.