Student-athletes call for MCPS to reverse cancellation of fall, winter sports

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) Last week, Montgomery County Public Schools announced the cancellation of fall and winter sports due to COVID-19 concerns, and some students say a July decision is too early to make the right call.

“Sports have such a positive impact on so many people in our community for them to be cancelled prematurely,” said Jeremy Ullman, a rising senior on the soccer team at Thomas S. Wootton High School.

Ullman and several other members of the soccer team at Wootton took matters into their own hands. They created and circulated a petition calling for MCPS to move fall and winter sports to the spring semester, instead of cancelling them entirely, garnered over 5,000 signatures in one week.

“We really do understand that they’re making this decision in the best interest of the students safety. At the same time, they have to understand the extreme value of sports. There’s so much; there’s college scholarships, mental health, and general well-being,” said Ryan Jayner, another rising senior at Wootton.

Even though the spring semester isn’t guaranteed, these student athletes are pushing for leaders to take a second look at the decision to cancel completely.

“It’s holding off on the decision, it’s about revisiting it in a couple months. We’re just asking that they reconsider and push these sports to the spring,” said Nick Jones, a rising junior at Wootton.

During a discussion about youth sports in Montgomery County on Wednesday, MCPS athletic director Jeff Sullivan says the school system is re-imagining the sports experience.

“We hope to bring them into a virtual space during the first semester, but also if health metrics support and we are able to, provide some in-person opportunities later in the school year,” said Sullivan.

Once an MCPS student athlete himself, current county councilmember Gabe Albornoz expressed his concerns about students losing their sports seasons.

“I’m very concerned about the social and emotional well-being of athletes who are not going to have a fall or winter season. I agree with the decision. But I just want to acknowledge that pain,” said Albornoz.

Over 20,000 MCPS high school students participated in athletics in 2019.

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