The “Let Them Play” movement has trickled all the way down to Virginia and taken aim at the Virginia High School League.
On Monday, a group of about 50 high school students and their parents protested the lack of a sports season during the fall on the steps of the Capitol in Richmond. Chanting “let them play” the group was aiming to get high school sports restarted in Virginia like they are in other parts of the country.
In addition, Brandy Dockery, a parent of a high school athlete, started a petition on change.org calling for the opening of high school sports to solve the issue. Dockery wrote that the VHSL’s decisions have had great consequences for her son and it’s heartbreaking for the seniors. She suggested that playing sports be left up to the districts rather than the VHSL.
Their frustration is understandable. Some states have decided to push forward with high school sports – including football – despite a pandemic that hasn’t stopped hitting the country since January. It’s difficult to see other states playing while your son or daughter is stuck in a holding pattern.
Being patient isn’t easy, especially when it feels like you’re missing out on something you feel is so important. But patience is called for at this time.
The fall sports season is scheduled to happen. The VHSL is planning an abbreviated season starting Feb. 15, with the first games set for March 1. The league will announce its "Championship + 1 1/4 u2033 scheduling for the 2021 school year Thursday at an Executive Committee meeting.
“We fully understand and support the passion of high school sports from our school communities, parents, and students,” the VHSL said in a press release. "From day one, we have been committed to getting our students participating in activities safely and responsibly. There has been a tremendous amount of input and cooperation from principals, superintendents, activity directors, coaches, and members of various communities.
"The VHSL and its member schools have worked tirelessly over the past several months to create a plan for our students to participate in VHSL sponsored athletics and activities. Our Executive Committee will meet this Thursday to approve and adopt our “Championships + 1” schedule for the … 2021 Athletic and Academic Activities season. This schedule provides every VHSL sponsored activity a season. "
So, if all goes well, there’s going to be football, volleyball, field hockey, golf and cross country.
The problem is, it’s just not when people want it. The parents and the kids want what they want and they want it now, to Hell with the consequences. And those consequences are steep, just look at Blacksburg; Columbia, Missouri; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Madison, Wisconsin or almost any college town in the country.
The desire to restart high school sports right away has even caused local politicians to take a stand. According to The Washington Post, John Collick, the Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in Virginia’s 3rd District, implored the protestors, “Do not vote for somebody that’s going to take your rights away, take your opportunities away.”
Last I checked, high school sports are not a right. It’s a privilege granted to the students at the will of the high school and the presiding school district.
More importantly, the delay is a logical move for many reasons:
It allows schools to get students back into the classroom – remember school comes first – and time to adjust to teaching face-to-face in the pandemic.
It allows the school to handle potential outbreaks within its building before adding athletics to the equation.
It allows schools to get transportation protocols put together to keep athletes safe while traveling between schools.
If, as scientists predict, there’s another wave of coronavirus this fall, it gives schools a buffer to make sure seasons aren’t canceled again.
The state is still in Phase 3 which means, according to the governor’s mandatory requirements, nothing can be played except for golf and cross country.
Regarding the petition, what Dockery is asking for is basically impossible. Take the Southeastern District, if Chesapeake schools don’t play it leaves the district with three schools participating. Also, how do you crown a state champion if a portion of the state isn’t playing? Finally, it doesn’t take into consideration the simple fact that according to the governor’s mandatory requirements, it’s not safe to play!
As COVID-19 1/4 u2032s threat diminishes, opportunities to play sports will present themselves. VHSL competition is slated to restart in December. We look forward to that time. But screaming and marching about what you want, when you want it with little regard for the impact of that choice on the community and state isn’t helpful.
It’s just selfish.
Greg Giesen 757-446-2309, firstname.lastname@example.org
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