November 18, 2020
For immediate release:
Contact: Noah Rouen, 612-419-6909
MN Moms and Kids to Gov. Walz: LET THEM PLAY
Thousands of Moms from across Minnesota Organize to Keep Kids Playing Sports
Minneapolis, MN – Earlier this fall Dawn Gillman knew she needed to do something. She watched as kids in surrounding states enjoyed the benefits and joys of youth sports, but Football in MN was shutdown. So she did what any passionate mom would do, she took action. Dawn started a Facebook Page (link), and it soon grew to over 21,000 people. When football was allowed to start, she thought the fight was over. Then this week, Governor Walz announced youth sports would grind to an immediate halt. So, with that, Let Them Play MN announced it was back and called on the Governor to let kids continue playing youth sports safely and responsibly.
“Today, on behalf of all of the kids that have worked so hard to get on the field, on the court, in the gym, on the mat, and in the game, we call on Governor Walz to reconsider his ban on youth sports and let them continue to play safely and responsibly,” said Dawn Gillman. “Covid is real and it is serious, but equally serious are the consequences of shutting down all sports when the science shows they are being done safely.”
Let Them Play MN cited a comprehensive study from the state of Wisconsin, which states: ”that participation in sports is not associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 among Wisconsin high school student-athletes.” (link to study). The study goes on to point out that student-athletes had the same extremely low infection rate as kids doing distance or virtual learning. “If we follow the science, we know that kids playing sports have a lower risk of getting Covid-19 than those not participating in sports,” said Let Them Play MN Attorney Sam Diehl. “To our knowledge, Governor Walz has not conducted a similar study, so his decision to close youth sports is not based on science but on speculation. Our kids deserve better.”
Youth sports have continued through the summer and fall with strict protocols to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. For indoor sports, teams have limited the number of fans allowed to attend, often to only 1 immediate family member. Everyone is required to wear a masks even for kids on the bench, Teams are limited time indoors by eliminating warm-up time and only allowing teams playing in buildings. In many cases, teams will use separate entrances and exits to limit exposure.
“Youth sports organizations have bent over backward to keep kids, parents, coaches, and officials safe, often going well above and beyond state and local health regulations,” said Diehl. “Today’s announcement is a devastating blow to all of the parents and volunteers that worked so hard to build a safe environment for kids to play.”
Wilson points to Data complied by Fluence Media, that shows despite huge numbers of participation across the state, there are relatively few outbreaks. (link). “Even MDH’s own data shows the measures sports leagues, parents and kids have taken is working,” said Wilson. “Banning youth sports that are proven to be done safely is an overreaction, that does more harm to kids across our state.”
The need to keep kids playing sports goes beyond the fact that they are not at greater risk of getting Covid-19. Sports are critical to students’ mental and physical health.
“The Governor said the ground is shifting, but the ground that is not shifting is the very cold and clear reality that we have lost far more school-age kids to suicide than COVID since March,” said Let Them Play Founder Dawn Gillman. “These kids need sports and activities to keep them mentally healthy and engaged.” (MDH reports only 1 death in MN for anyone under age 19)
“Next week on Black Friday stores will be full of people ‘competing’ for the latest bargain, but all of our gyms, fields and courts will be empty.” said Gillman. “I have a hard time explaining that to my kids and their friends.”
Members of Let Them Play MN will be available for media interviews. Please contact Noah Rouen, 612-419-6909 or noah@rouengroup,com to schedule.