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State representatives voice concerns over winter sports postponement

"It's more than just an extracurricular activity"
State Representatives speak out about winter sports postponement
Posted at 3:42 PM, Feb 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-01 16:36:07-05

LANSING, Mich. — State leaders in Lansing are receiving a lot of calls and messages right now from parents, athletes and coaches who are hoping for a winter sports season.

Michigan Lawmakers speak out about winter sports

Republican state representative Greg VanWoerkom of Michigan's 91st District says the legislature is doing all they can.

"We're frustrated, too," VanWoerkom said.

State Rep. Greg VanWoerkom addresses winter sports
Republican state representative, Greg VanWoerkom of Michigan's 91st district addresses the winter sports postponement.

Like many of her colleagues, Representative Mary Whiteford of the state's 80th District says her focus is on the mental health of the youth in Michigan.

"It's their core love," Whiteford told FOX 17. Iit's what they live and breathe for during this time in their adolescence, and I think it's really sad they aren't getting the chance to do it. There's so many sad people out there."

Thousands were in attendance for Saturday's Let Them Play rally at the state Capitol. Both VanWoerkom and Whiteford say it's an encouraging sign to see so many families getting involved.

"I think this needs to be done by families that have been affected," VanWoerkom added. "We need those families that have been directly impacted to show that this isn't just playing sports but there's a mental health issue here, as well."

Thousands attend 'Let Them Play' at State Capitol
Thousands stand on the front lawn of the Michigan State Capitol on Saturday, January 30th for the 'Let Them Play' rally.

"For so many to take the time and demonstrate peacefully about an issue they care about so deeply, it was a very important message to get out there," Whiteford said.

And the Republican state representatives say they've done all they can to bring winter sports back.

"We've tried our methods, the legislative angles, we've tried reaching out to the governor's office and the Department of Health and Human Services about it," said VanWoerkom.

Whiteford says she's heard from several families during this ongoing pandemic. "I have many people reach out to me and say, 'Hey, why aren't you making sure our sports are open? Our restaurants stay open,'" Whiteford explained. "But it doesn't work that way. At least we can try to assert our legislative authority through the process and make sure we are being heard and the people we represent are being heard in this state."

Mary Whiteford chats with FOX 17
Republican state representative, Mary Whiteford of Michigan's 80th district chats with FOX 17's Zach Harig regarding winter sports.

While Democratic state representatives from West Michigan either declined to comment or didn't respond to our requests, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement regarding the winter sports season:

“While there is not a timeline to share, the department is having conversations with stakeholders including education, athletic, and grassroots groups on best practices and the safest steps forward related to resuming contact sports in the near future.”
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services