Are the winter sports precautions too much?

Raya getting shots in his driveway to prepare for the season that he is unsure he will have (Photo by Caleb Holmes-McGahan).

Caleb Holmes-McGahan, Staff Writer

This winter has been especially harsh because of all the COVID restrictions that are present in the State of Michigan. To make things worse, high school contact sports such as cheerleading, basketball, wrestling and hockey have been delayed many weeks.

Many are outraged over this situation. Neighboring states such as Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois still allow sports while at times having near double the amount of cases that Michigan has had in the past few months.

Seniors are especially frustrated with the precautions taken by the state; Milford Senior Josh Raya stated, “ I feel that she (Governor Whitmer) doesn’t think about how the kids feel about not having their sports and having their seasons ripped away from them, especially seniors.” This came after Raya heard that winter sports were going to be postponed until Feb. 21st, which caused concern for athletes still trying to secure scholarships.

“I feel like we aren’t getting a chance to play,” Raya said. “Kids who have scholarships lined up aren’t getting a chance to earn those scholarships at schools that are interested in them.”

This past postponement to the winter sports has come with a lot of controversy because Michigan’s COVID cases are currently at around 1,500 cases per day, which is where it was at the end of the fall sports season, making the return to sports seem safe.“I would feel safe playing hockey; the team has been practicing and we haven’t had any cases yet,” Raya said. “Yes, there have been some people quarantining, but we make sure that we stay safe on the ice.” Another Milford Senior, Savannah Wood, had some opposing thoughts; she said, “ I definitely think the season should have been pushed back to where we are at now.” While the number of cases has gone down in Michigan, a large concern is if sports do go back, will there be another rise in COVID cases like what was seen a few months ago? “I understand why sports like cheerleading are back,” she said. “However, I’m not sure I would feel safe playing some of the other sports such as hockey or basketball since they have more contact with people they wouldn’t normally see.”

Cases going back up is a major concern, but with so many states around us going back to playing sports without having major shutdowns again, it is a sign that it could be time. Wood said. “While I do think it is more risky, I know how passionate students are about their sports and would be more than willing to take any precaution necessary, so it does make me jealous that we can’t go back too.”

While Michiganders have been under strict orders during these winter months, bordering states such as Illinois have had fewer restrictions. In Illinois, contact sports have been allowed to play since Jan. 25th, which is close to a whole month before Michigan’s expected date of Feb. 21st.

This  begs the following question: what are Illinois COVID cases, as compared to Michigan’s?

On Jan. 21st, the State of Illinois’ case numbers were  at 4,800 cases, compared to Michigan’s 2,500. Illinois has close to double the amount of cases, yet is cleared to play.

Senior Ryan Shimp from Yorkville High School Illinois has some words about how his state is dealing with COVID saying: “Our state has been horrible with dealing with COVID, just because they say we’re going in the right direction and then they change their mind and we go back to a shut down the next day.” So, is it truly safe for students to be playing when they don’t believe their states are taking the right precautions “There are many counties around us that are doing very poorly, and I’m not sure I would feel comfortable playing there,” Shimp said. “However, in certain counties, (like ours) we have super low cases and have for a while so it seems unfair to shut down the whole state when there are places that have minimal cases.”

Knowing that a state close to ours that has its citizens feeling uneasy about how safe the state is keeping them does show that while many in Michigan feel very restricted, it could be for our own good. Shimp recently took a trip to Michigan and afterward, he shared, “From what I know and have seen in Michigan, they have handled it a little better than Illinois; we have been going back and forth between being open and closed, but it seems like Michigan has limited its cases by staying consistent.”

So, is Michigan’s government taking over suppressing our citizens for no reason or are students acting like rebellious teens who don’t know how good  they have it? Compared to many states surrounding Michigan, there is much more control of the virus. Could not playing sports this winter have kept our cases so low?