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WATCH: Hundreds Of Connecticut High School Football Players Rally Over Canceled Season
Eastside Catholic High School football player J.T. Tuimoloau, one of the top recruits in the US, speaks during a rally at the state capitol organized by Student Athletes of Washington (SAW), a group that formed to protest the postponement of fall sports due to COVID-19, in Olympia, Washington on September 3, 2020. (Photo by Jason Redmond / AFP) (Photo by JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images)
JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of players, coaches, and parents rallied outside the Connecticut state Capitol in Hartford on Wednesday evening to protest the cancellation of high school football over the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Incredible turnout by Connecticut high school football players, parents and coaches PROTESTING the states decision to cancel the 2020 season. They’re asking @GovNedLamont to #LetUsPlay #letusplayCT,” former CNN host David Briggs tweeted with video of the event that showed hundreds of assembled protesters chanting, “Let us play.”

Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont tweeted on Wednesday night that he was convening a meeting between the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), which governs high school sports, on Friday to work on restarting the high school football season.

“I’m calling for a meeting between @CTDPH and @ciacsports to be held on Friday regarding ways to safely hold school sports. We have an obligation to all of our students, faculty, staff, and administrators to keep them safe, and I expect that goal to be the focus of the discussion,” Lamont said.

Players and coaches representing at least 40 teams from across the state attended the protest. Total attendance was estimated to be around 1,200 people, according to the Connecticut Post.

“It was very empowering to see a whole bunch of different towns come together for a cause,” Danbury High School football captain Nick Smith said. “We have our opponents here, rivals on the field, but we’re all friends now, all fighting for the season we want to have.”

The CIAC had announced on Friday after the public health department declined to recommend playing football that Connecticut would not play the sport in the fall. The CIAC had announced earlier in the summer that sports not played in the fall would not be made up in the spring.

Critics of the CIAC’s decision have pointed out that indoor sports such as volleyball and hockey have been given the green light by the agency to play fall seasons.

“We want to get our season back. We want to play, the fall, the spring, whenever we can play, we want to get out there,” East Haven senior Trey Garea said. “It’s our senior season. COVID, we’ve got some of the lowest rates in the country.”

“I think we deserve it. We’re following the guidelines. The CIAC’s got a great plan set forth for us,” he added.

A similar protests took place in Michigan last month as more than 100 players, coaches, and parents protested outside the state Capitol in Lansing for Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to restart the fall high school football season. State officials freed high schools to play football this fall late last week. Whitmer did mandate that athletes wear masks while competing, however.

Washington state high school football players also held their own rally last week pushing to reinstate a fall football season. The state agency governing high school football has stood by its decision to play the season in the spring, however.

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