Let Them Play Protest
When Michigan received the news of winter sports being pushed back to February 21st, there was a growing group of administrators, coaches, players, and fans in utter frustration and sadness. Thousands of people showed up to Michigan’s Capitol on Saturday, January 30th, to let their voices be heard. After everything COVID-19 had taken from these families, the inability to play sports was the final straw.
The impact this has set out is greater than anyone could imagine, actually leading to the sports starting date being moved to early February. To incite this change, there were more than 25 people who spoke out about the way the push back of sports was affecting communities, schools, and mental health of students. “The ban on them is doing more harm than good,” someone at the protest claimed. The protest was far from a dividing political matter like the ones we’ve seen in Michigan during the pandemic. Senior varsity basketball player from Coopersville High School, Ethan Coady, partook in the protest in hopes of eliciting a positive response from the capital. At the time, the state permitted sports practices, but only if they were non-contact. Coady expressed his frustration: “It’s not the same,” he said of non-contact practices. “It feels more like a track practice than a basketball practice, because we are just running and shooting and staying distanced from each other the whole time. It sucks seeing my teammates and so many other athletes out there struggle and not be in a good spot, so I wanted to be proactive and get involved.” He finished, “We just want to get back to a normal life and part of that is bringing sports back.”
The Let Them Play organization raised over $50,000 through a GoFundMe page and continued to reach out to state officials until a change occurred. Players, teams, coaches, and parents all across the state came together and created an entire movement for their right to play. This kind of unity has been rare in our society ever since the pandemic. It’s important that we maintain this cohesion during these difficult times, for when people across Michigan got together to protest their right to play sports, they effectively got the starting date moved to earlier in February.