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'Let Them Play' rally Saturday in Lansing urges state to allow winter high school sports

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Posted at 8:53 AM, Jan 30, 2021

(WSYM) — Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday at the Capitol in Lansing, urging Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the state to allow winter high school contact sports to begin.

Related: Photo gallery: Hundreds gather at the Capitol for 'Let Them Play' rally

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.

"The data and science that have been out for weeks supports the conclusion that it's safe for our students to begin playing high school athletics," Let Them Play spokesperson Peter Ruddell says. "We identified a number of reasons why, in addition to the data and science, but we continue to see this divergence of the rich and the poor. Students who have means are able to travel out of state to Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, all states that are allowing athletics to continue."

The Michigan High School Athletic Association says it is talking with the new state health director to try to get winter high school sports back in the game.

Mark Uyl, Executive Director of the MHSAA, said during a Zoom news conference COVID tests of 5,300 students, coaches, and cheerleaders this fall showed only a 1% positivity rate.

He said everybody understood the new lockdowns put in place in November with numbers in Michigan going up. Uyl also said the testing in November increased to 30,000 in schools with a .02% positivity rate.