(WSYM) — High school players, parents and coaches are asking the state health department to let them play after another delay to winter contact sports, which involves basketball, cheer, hockey and wrestling.
They have started a petition for the return of high school basketball, which has almost 25,000 signatures. The athletes feel they've gotten the short end of the stick, and say they're willing to take extra precautions.
The state said due to outbreaks associated with contact sports, the pause will remain.
“Obviously the pause was not ideal, especially for me since I’m a senior. This is my last chance to get a scholarship or to prove myself," Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School senior Kevin Everhart said.
It's a familiar dilemma for thousands of high school athletes around Michigan, still unable to suit up for practices or games due to COVID-19. Under an updated state health department order announced Friday, winter contact sports cannot resume until Feb. 21 at the earliest, while players originally had planned to return on Feb. 1.
“A lot of us are just sitting at home. Like there’s not much that kids can do right now," De La Salla basketball player Linden Holder said.
“Sports are a big extension of the educational system and all that we just want to make sure we’re fighting for them and doing everything we can to have our voices heard," De La Salle Varsity Basketball Coach Gjon Djokaj added.
There's an online petition circulating for basketball, in particular, its creators say that if high school athletes in neighboring states can play safely, so too should Michigan's student-athletes.
According to the state health department, in Michigan, 42 COVID-19 outbreaks were linked to some kind of sports back in August and September before contact sport restrictions, and with the new COVID-19 variant in Michigan, concern over spreading is even higher.
“We’ve been hoping for this date and to play and stuff and then it just keeps getting pushed back… really infuriating, to be honest," Grosse Pointe South basketball captain Kamryn Richard said.
.@MichiganHHS statement in response to calls for the return of @MHSAA winter contact sports.— Jenn Schanz (@JennSchanzWXYZ) January 25, 2021
"Even with mitigation measures in place.... disease transmission cannot be completely prevented when players are in prolonged or intense contact."
Full statement below: @wxyzdetroit pic.twitter.com/sD3bGLV6om