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Student-Athletes Protest for Return to Sports

In a previous publication of this story, Blueprint misquoted varsity basketball player Theo Stoll and incorrectly stated that Stoll is a junior varsity football player. Blueprint has since updated the story.

By Tom Bequette, Online Sports Editor

// Before the pandemic, the notion of protesting to have a sports season seemed ludicrous to some, but now it has become a reality for some Acalanes High School students-athletes.

   Acalanes parents and students protested the California Interscholastic Federation’s (CIF) decision to postpone high school sports seasons by holding a Let Them Play rally in the Acalanes parking lot on Jan. 15.

   The protest began at 3:45 p.m. as students wearing Acalanes apparel and jerseys stood on the sidewalk and the bike-lane outside of the Acalanes parking lot holding signs, yelling through megaphones, and chanting phrases like “Let Them Play” or “Let’s Go Dons.” Many of the cars passing by responded honks and cheers of support.

   Organizers told protestors to practice social distancing and wear masks. Signs were strung up around the area with rules about how to protest safely.

   The football team made up a large majority of the protesters, possibly due to football only being able to return if a county is in the orange tier. 

   “I think that if it is possible to do safely, having a football season should be something that Acalanes is pushing for. The players are working very hard with all the restrictions in place and I think that a safe season would be beneficial to all involved,” varsity basketball player and sophomore Theo Stoll said.

   The rally concluded with various protestors giving speeches about the benefits of sports.

   “We had a good turnout of student-athletes coming to support the [Let Them Play] movement. We had some speakers talk to everyone about what these sports mean to them and the toll it has taken on us to not play,” varsity football player and senior Brady Huchingson said.   

   Many protestors believe that despite the threat of COVID-19, a safe season is still possible, pointing out that other parts of the country continue to play sports without increasing cases.

   “It makes no sense not to have a football season because all the other states have done research that showed that these sports didn’t increase the spread of COVID-19 very much at all,” Huchingson said.  

   Some of the protestors also felt that a year with no sports would be unfair to students and could potentially harm many of their futures.

   “[Sports mean] a lot to all of us as we’ve been practicing constantly since June in hopes of a season that keeps getting pushed away. Personally, football was my plan for college, and most college coaches will not give offers without seeing film from our senior year which we sadly cannot get,” Huchingson said.

   However, other protestors believed the district should focus more on reopening schools instead of allowing sports to begin.

   “I think the district’s priority should be getting schools open again. I think there has been a lack of action towards moving students back onto campus. Once that situation is taken care of, then the school should assess the possibility of bringing back not just sports, but music and other forms of extra curricular activities,” Stoll said. “As I mentioned before though, safety needs to be at the forefront of these activities. Only if they are actually safe would I like to see them come back.”

   Acalanes Athletic Director Randall Takahashi expressed that there are more effective means of protesting.

   “The rally was a public display of what we all want, but in my opinion, the greatest impact constituents can have is when they contact their local state congressperson or the governor to express their opinion,” Takahashi said.

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