Michigan's new Health and Human Services director is facing a lawsuit over the ban on high school winter sports.
The lawsuit is a move many parents, coaches and players have been hoping for as the ban on contact sports continues after two-and-a-half months and counting.
For many players, sports is more than just a game.
“It’s been kinda hard on me and my mental health,” said Madison Cunningham, senior at Ovid-Elsie High School.
Cunningham plays basketball, soccer, and volleyball. She said the current shutdown of winter contact sports and last year’s cancelation of spring sports has had a negative effect on her ability to stay motivated.
“It’s kinda been really depressing for me and for a lot of other people. So it’s just really hard to not have anything to look forward to because it’s getting ripped away from us,” Cunningham said.
Cunningham’s father, Ryan, is the varsity girls’ basketball coach at Ovid-Elsie. He is also the district’s superintendent. He said he and other superintendents from across the region have noticed more gloom and unhappiness amongst students as the coronavirus pandemic drags on.
“Isolation isn’t good for kids. We found that out with remote learning. We saw kids that were just depressed because they couldn’t come to school. For a lot of kids, school is the safest place they can be. When you take that away, it’s hard from an education standpoint and from an athletics standpoint,” he said.
The superintendent said he supports the Let Them Play movement and the lawsuit because he’s for anything that will get kids back in the gyms or the fields so they can play sports again.
“To say, ‘hey, let’s get kids back in school.’ ‘Let’s do these things in a school environment, but not extracurricular.’ It does not make sense,” he said.
Both Cunninghams said it has been tough to see all the data showing how safe playing and practicing sports has been in terms of not spreading COVID-19, while still not being allowed to play.