Athletes gather at Strath Haven High School to protest delay to season

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On Thursday, students, coaches, and parents from across Delaware County, PA rallied to protest the continued shutdown of fall sports at Strath Haven High School. The growing movement — Let the Kids Play 2020 — has been picking up steam lately after the Central Athletic League made the decision to postpone high school sports until January.

“We asked the Central League what the basis was for them to close down fall sports. We have received no response.” said Derek Ryder, a coach at Strath Haven and the keynote speaker at the event. He later expressed concern that the Chester County Health Department had failed to give an actual scientific basis for postponing fall sports.

Over 100 people representing at least half a dozen Central League High School’s were in attendance, with overwhelming support from those passing by. 

One student speaker said, “We take risks in our daily lives. Going to the store, going on public transportation, going to see grandparents and loved ones, going to protest; while there should be precautions, sports should continue.” 

The movement has also caused some controversy with those in the community. Intense arguments have broken out online about having a season at this point during the pandemic. Some coaches at Ridley HS took it a step further, scheduling practices at the same time as the rally. 

Touching upon the divisive atmosphere of the country, Coach Ryder pleaded for unity saying, “Sports is the most effective thing to bring people together. Everyone across racial, gender and political lines can come together for the game” 

Multiple speakers and attendees have expressed concerns over mental health of athletes. There is a belief that sports is the only thing that motivates many athletes. By cancelling their season, it could lead to mental health problems.

Additionally, many students and coaches are unhappy with the fact that their league is one of the few in the state to cancel or postpone fall sports. A majority of the state has re-opened high school sports and some schools have already played games. The Pennsylvania state legislature passed a bill on Thursday that allowed the individual schools to decide the number of attendees allowed at high school sporting events.

Strath Haven High School Senior Jake Dougherty summed up the feelings of most attendees when he said, “We should definitely be able to play in the fall because the recommendation given by the County Health Department is utterly baseless.” He also pointed out that a majority of other schools across the state are already playing and it is unfair to be left out.

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