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Superintendent says state’s handling of high school sports is ‘embarrassing’

He says students in tears when told contact sports is delayed again
Hundreds expected to send a message to state officials saying they can safely play basketball,...
Hundreds expected to send a message to state officials saying they can safely play basketball, other winter sports
Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 6:04 PM EST
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SAGINAW, Mich. (WJRT) - Over the last few months, we’ve seen several “Let Them Play” rallies outside the State Capitol in Lansing.

Another one is planned for this weekend and a big group of people from the Saginaw area is expected to participate.

Competition for “contact” high school winter sports has been pushed back again until at least Feb. 21, meaning basketball, hockey, wrestling and competitive cheer can’t start their season.

“It’s embarrassing. It’s unfortunate and embarrassing,” says Bridgeport-Spaulding Community Schools Superintendent Mark Whelton.

His student athletes are devastated.

“I’m watching kids, when this was announced, the delay, they are broke down, I have young men and woven in tears, their frustration level is through the roof,” Whelton said.

Whitmer talked about her decision at today’s press briefing regarding the state’s coronavirus pandemic response.

“It’s important to point out that as Dr. (Joneigh) Khaldun talked about the variant, and the seriousness, and the high contagious aspect to this variant, that it’s important that we keep watching the numbers,” she said.

Whelton said the state has provided little data that shows contact sports have contributed to community spread of the coronavirus.

“Show us the data, if you have some data, look at contact sports are creating a bigger mess for the state of Michigan, than show us the data,” he said.

The Let Them Play group is holding a rally in Lansing on Saturday to send a message to the governor and state legislators that it’s time to save the winter sports season. The group has held two previous rallies. A lawsuit is also in the works.

Whelton said he is working with other area high schools to get as many administrators, coaches, parents and players to the rally.

“Saginaw is united in getting our sports back,” Whelton said.

He said neighboring states are allowing contact sports and a number of area teams and athletes have been making the trek south to compete.

“Our kids are looking at us, what, we can’t play but we can go across the state line and play basketball there,” Whelton said.

The Let Them Play rally will begin at noon at the Michigan State Capitol on Saturday.

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