'Let Them Play' sues state health department hoping to force return of contact sports

Posted at 11:20 AM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 12:11:10-05

(WXYZ) — Michigan parents, student athletes and coaches angry over the continued delay of high school winter sports are taking their plea to a judge, hoping to force the return of contact sports.

Currently, high school winter sports are set to resume on Feb. 21.

The advocacy group "Let Them Play Michigan" and several others have filed a complaint against the new director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

In a letter to new director Elizabeth Hertel, attorneys for "Let Them Play Michigan" and several others, including high school athletes, urge her
to issue a new emergency health order allowing for the immediate return of winter contact sports practices and games.

The group claims that among other things, the current health order is "arbitrary and unconstitutional."

"Unfortunately, this morning, we had to take action we would have preferred not to take," attorney Peter Rudell said. "We filed a lawsuit against MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel in her official capacity."

MDHHS says the delay from Feb. 1 to Feb. 21 is due to concerns that playing contact sports could further spread the virus, a worry only growing with new cases of the COVID-19 variant in metro Detroit.

According to MDHHS, there were 42 outbreaks associated with sports of some kind back in August and September before contact sports restrictions were put in place. But Rudell says a state high school athletic association study shows sports at the high school don't pose a serious threat of spread.

“They tested over 5,000 athletes and coaches, which resulted in over 30,000 tests being conducted on those individuals, with a 99.8 percent negativity rate," he said.

He also points to neighboring states like Ohio and Indiana, currently allowing competition.

This past weekend, hundreds of people associated with "Let Them Play" protested at the Capitol in Lansing for Michigan to follow suit.

“The ban on athletic practice and competition has restricted the ability of these and many other student athletes from achieving their career pathway, competing, practicing, and potentially gaining college scholarships," Rudell said.

View the letter to Director Hertel below:

2021-01-25 Letter to Director Hertel by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd

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