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West Michigan athletes rally in Lansing to reverse MHSAA decision on football this fall

Posted at 8:41 PM, Aug 28, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — On what would be the first night of high school football for most teams in Michigan, players, coaches, and parents rallied Friday in Lansing.

They asked the Michigan High School Athletic Association to reverse its decision to postpone the season to spring 2021 while calling on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to re-open the state.

Organizers called it their Hail Mary.

“We dealt with keeping them safe physically for this, and now we have to keep them safe mentally and emotionally, that has to be the next step and we can’t do that by being afraid to move forward,” said Jayme McElvany, organizer.

McElvany and other speakers argued not playing is impacting player’s mental and emotional health as well as their college opportunities.

Those in attendance said spring football would be a “logistical nightmare.” They said multi-sport athlete schedules, weather, and a lack of referees would be just some of the issues.

Organizers also cited the low number of cases and deaths among high school aged students.

According to the state’s coronavirus dashboard, there have been 7,077 cased of COVID-19 among kids aged 10 to 19 and zero deaths.

“We just feel like we can play while being safe at the same time, plus this gives us something to do in the fall,” said Brennan Hayes.

Hayes plays quarterback at Hudsonville, one of a handful of West Michigan schools with athletes in attendance.

According to Hayes, summer practice went well, so teams should be given a chance to try it out this fall.

“We’d get screened and tested with our masks on, we’d have hand sanitizer, and then we’d go out to practice and we’d do all that and just try to stay six feet apart at all times,” said Hayes.

Rival teams agreed while parents added fans, band members, and cheerleaders could play their part too.

“Let us play,” said Cole Gleason, Rockford football player. “We’ve been working hard and we think we can follow the regulations to keep everyone safe.”

“It doesn’t make sense why all of a sudden the decision was taken from these kids at the last minute when they’ve been working hard all summer without any cases, without any problems,” said Cary Hayes, a mother.

FOX17 reached out to MHSAA for a statement on Friday’s rally but have not heard back.

To read about their decision earlier this month, click here.