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Parents, athletes plead with state lawmakers to restart sports

A growing number of people have joined the 'Let Them Play' movement in order to get back to sports competition.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Spencer McKelligon is a three sport athlete at Jesuit High School. To say he has missed the competition and camaraderie due to COVID-19 would be an understatement.

"I miss it a lot," said Spencer. "It's the only thing I do, all day, every day. I play basketball, football, work out with my friends."

Some of those friends joined Spencer and dozens of others at a 'Let Them Play' rally at Southwest Portland's Gabriel Park Wednesday evening.

"We're hoping we can sit down and have a conversation with the Governor, OSAA, and Oregon Health Authority to find a way," said Courtenay McKelligon. 

They want to find a way to get kids playing contact sports again.

"We feel it's emotionally beneficial, physically beneficial and mentally beneficial for these kids to get out there and play," said Kelli Spitznagel.

If any of this sounds familiar it is because it should. Just last week, dozens of people rallied for the very same thing on the capitol grounds in Salem. 

"I think it was really important to bring them here. This is where the decisions are made and remind those making decisions these are real kids and there are side effects to keeping them out of activities," said Julian Cordle of Eagle Point.

State leaders hit the pause button on sports to slow and stop the spread of COVID-19. The virus can spread through prolonged contact. Parents and kids of the 'Let Them Play' movement understand that. They just want to find some middle ground.

"The most important thing is to have a dialogue instead of a blanket this isn't happening until phase three," said Courtenay McKelligon. "That's a hard pill to swallow."

Credit: Courtenay McKelligon
Spencer McKelligon on the basketball court.

It certainly has been for Spencer McKelligon. He is entering his junior year at Jesuit High School and simply wants to get back to competition with his friends.

"It's the best thing honestly," he said. "It's great."

The Executive Director of OSAA sent an email to KGW saying they strongly believe that athletics and activities are essential to the mental and physical well-being of all students in Oregon. They will continue to work with the state’s educational and public health leaders in advocating for a safe return to participation.

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