The people of Anne Arundel, Maryland want their high school sports back.
On Monday night, 200 high school parents, student-athletes and coaches gathered to call for the return of high school sports as soon as possible. The Anne Arundel school board is slated to discuss options for resuming competition on Tuesday night.
A handful of recognizable community faces also gathered to push for the return of high school sports in Anne Arundel. Sportscaster Keith Mills, local radio personality Vinny Cerato and former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich all spoke about the toll not being able to play sports has taken on student-athletes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“How about the 85 percent of the kids who will not play in college for whom this is so important, for whom this has been their life work, for whom they’ll be in their 80s remembering their high school games? — I hope,” Ehrlich said, per Katherine Fominykh of the Capital Gazette. “If you lose that, you lose something that’s real and something that’s intangible.”
In September, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association gave the state’s 24 school districts the option of playing high school sports as soon as Oct. 7. However, none of the biggest counties in the state have agreed to play until 2021. Private school sports in the Baltimore area are also still on pause, with meetings to discuss a plan for resuming play scheduled for later this month.
Anne Arundel is in a unique situation as one of Maryland’s most prominent counties. Not only is it the only “big” county pushing for a return to play, but it also features numerous private and public school voices, which could help motivate a decision in their favor.
“It will help because the more parents, the more schools, the more coaches, the better off,” Ehrlich said. “The merits don’t change — all parents I meet say the same thing. The rec teams, the pros, the colleges — they’re all playing.”
Anne Arundel’s Youth Football Association’s tackle season has already kicked off. Now, the hope is that high school sports can begin to follow suit sooner rather than later, with Tuesday night”s meeting serving as a potential major step in the right direction.
“We’re the ones playing,” Ehrlich said. “We’re the ones putting our life on the line because of COVID, but if the youth can play and we can’t, it doesn’t make sense to us. We want answers soon. It’s already October.”