High school sports controversy

“Let Them Play” success


Photo Courtesy: Aden Jordan

Aden Jordan and former RHS student Nathan Schwein protesting at the capitol building in Lansing for the Let Them Play movement.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that high school winter sports would be delayed until February 21; however many athletes, coaches, and even the MHSAA fought against this until sports resumed on February 4.
“I turned to hockey to release any sadness, dark times, and just significantly downward slopes in my mental health so when I found out that our season would be delayed, I knew I couldn’t stay quiet,” junior hockey player Aden Jordan, who attended the “Let Them Play” protest, said.
Shortly after the protest in Lansing on January 30, winter sports were given the green light to resume, but there was more going on behind the scenes to get to that point. Supporters of “Let Them Play”, the Michigan Amateur Youth Hockey League, and parents of winter sports athletes decided to file a lawsuit against Michigan’s Health and Human Service Director Elizabeth Hertel for various reasons regarding the delay of their season.
“The ban on athletic practice and competition has restricted the ability of these and many other student-athletes from achieving a career pathway, competing, practicing and potentially gaining college scholarships,” Peter Ruddell, the attorney working alongside the “Let Them Play” movement, said in his letter to Hertel.
Many students rely on their athletic performance for college scholarships and the delay of this season could’ve ruined that opportunity for those players, not to mention just the loss of their overall skill in the sport. For Jordan, the ban just didn’t make sense.
“We play sports in gym class yet we weren’t going to be allowed to play them after school, I just don’t understand that logic,” Jordan said.
Ruddell also made this point in his letter to Hertel. Mark Uyl, the executive director of MHSAA mentioned in a statement that the organization would advocate for the students, however, they did not want to partake in the lawsuit against Hertel as they were aiming to peacefully come up with a solution.
“We will continue asking questions and advocating for all of our schools and athletes as we work toward building our next plans for seasons in basketball, competitive cheer, ice hockey, and wrestling,” Uyl said.
On February 4, it was announced that winter sports would be allowed to happen with Covid-19 precautions. Athletes must wear masks at all times and if they’re unable to, they must receive rapid Covid-19 tests the day of their meets or games. Additionally, when they’re not playing, athletes must be six feet apart at all times.
“I’m just happy that I got my season back, I don’t really care if I have to wear a mask as long as I’m playing the sport that I love,” Jordan said.
Gaining the winter season back would not have been possible without the MHSAA support, parents, athletes, and the “Let Them Play” organization threatening a lawsuit to the MHHSD director to encourage her reconsideration.
“Our strong advocacy for all sports and seasons – and especially winter sports – continues every day,” Uyl said in an MHSAA statement.