Michigan ‘Let Them Play,’ Students, Parents Win: Gretchen Whitmer Caves, Starts Winter School Sports

In this photo provided by the Michigan Executive Office of the Governor, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a news conference Friday, May 29, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. Whitmer hinted that she will soon reopen more regions of Michigan, expressing optimism as long as the rate of new coronavirus cases continues …
Michigan Executive Office of the Governor via AP

Organized students and parents scored a victory over Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) when she backed down Wednesday and authorized winter school sports to begin.

Whitmer changed course after pushing back the start date to “at least” February 21 triggered weeks of protest by students, parents, and sports organizers.

“Our numbers are now in place where we can allow our kids to get back in the game with their coaches and teammates,” the governor claimed during a midday press conference.

Basketball, hockey, wrestling and competitive cheer may begin Monday, February 8, the new order said, and lasts through March 29, Fox 2 reported.

Whitmer will require athletes to wear masks during competition and when masks cannot be worn, “participants must be regularly tested for COVID-19 (coronavirus) consistent with guidelines issued” by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, according to the Detroit News.

The governor’s announcement comes just two days after Let Them Play Michigan filed suit against Whitmer’s administration, claiming the bans on contact sports “are unconstitutional because they deny students equal protection under the law, due process, and the right to free assembly, among other things,” Bridge reported.

The coalition’s attorney, Peter Ruddell, said, “Unfortunately, there is no other place for citizens to appeal a decision that restricts the parents’ and student athletes’ ability to pursue a key component of their public education.”

The plaintiffs also include Brian and Rona Dethloff, “whose son, a Mona Shores hockey player, died of suicide Jan. 18,” according to WOOD TV.

“Dethloff’s parents have publicly said they believe delays in the winter hockey season, coupled with their son’s ongoing mental health issues, pushed him to a breaking point and contributed to his death,” the station reported.

“This is for the best interest of the student-athletes. They need to be on the court for their mental health, their emotional health, their physical health and their long-term education and career pathways,” Ruddell said.

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