LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A few hundred high school athletes, their parents and other supporters rallied outside Michigan’s Capitol in Lansing in support of the reopening of sports programs shut down by COVID-19 restrictions.
Saturday’s “Let Them Play” demonstration was held as the state reported 1,358 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 104 deaths.
Orders released earlier this month by Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services bans contact winter sports like basketball, wrestling, hockey and competitive cheerleading.
Various coaching associations have written letters to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state officials urging that their sports be allowed to continue, according to the Lansing State Journal.
Whitmer's administration extended the ban on youth contact sports through Feb. 21, three months after it began.
Non-contact winter sports like bowling, boys swimming and gymnastics are allowed to begin their seasons.
Ethan Dunn wants to get back on the basketball court for East Lansing High School.
“It’s very painful for myself and everyone else I’m sure — especially the seniors — to have their season taken away like this and not have the opportunity,” Dunn told the Lansing State Journal Saturday. “Some use it as a coping mechanism, others want to play at the collegiate level and others might not get a chance again to play this sport.”
As of Saturday, Michigan has recorded 559,241 confirmed virus cases. More than 14,600 people have died from the disease. Of the 104 deaths reported Saturday, 93 were identified during a review of vital records.