LANSING, Mich. - Lawmakers listened to impassioned pleas from parents and student-athletes who have been locked out of competition for months due to a ban on some winter sports in schools over COVID-19 restrictions.
During a committee meeting in Lansing Thursday, advocates for reopening that part of the state made their case a 'Let Them Play' resolution for restarting winter sports was on the floor.
The Republican-introduced resolution received bipartisan support from lawmakers that listened in. However, the Michigan governor has said the presence of a new COVID-19 variant makes lifting the ban more dangerous due to how infectious the strain is.
To let them play, or not play, that is the (latest) question in the Covid era. A state that's been under some measure of restrictions for almost an entire year is continuing to look for space where lawmakers and constituents agree.
At the same time, some have pointed out the double standards and redundancies of some health measures. Why should restaurants reopen if contact high school sports can't? What specific metrics would offer clarity about when they can reopen? Currently, a ban remains in effect for school sports that are in contact until Feb. 21. That's under the newest health order from the state health department.
The Michigan High School Sports Athletic Association knows what side they're on, and plan to voice their opinion with a media call later Friday.
"Each week, we see hundreds of examples of children and families competing in non-school competition, both in-state and out-of-state," Executive Director Mark Uyl said in a statement. "This not only is in violation of current MDHHS orders but sending all of these families into different states will only become an impediment to getting students back in school full-time."
Currently, girls and boys bowling, girls gymnastics, girls and boys alpine skiing, and girls and boys swimming & dive can participate. But basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey, and wrestling, are off-limits.
Results from a rapid testing pilot program found only 1% of 5,376 individuals tested positive. The group included athletes, coaches, team personnel, and cheerleaders. In a separate program that performed nearly 30,000 rapid antigen tests, 99.8% of them came back negative.
Parents and student-athletes will be back in Lansing Saturday to protest the ban.