Numerous rallies in support of high school sports took place throughout the state of California on Friday. Parents, coaches and high school students held signs and shouted support for their athletes outside of their local schools. In California, which has some of the strictest protocols in dealing with the COVID-19, high school sports have not been played since last school year.
While the timing of these rallies may seem perplexing to some, given the surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations throughout California, the fact is that time for any kind of high school football season is running out. Furthermore, California is just one of seven states that haven’t played high school sports. The majority of states have already held high school state championship games for football.
Locally, rallies were held outside both Wilcox and Santa Clara high schools. Neither of the rallies were school-sanctioned events, but concerned parents and families were out on the sidewalks showing support for their loved ones who haven’t been able to play for their various teams.
Wilcox parent Michelle Farleigh organized the rally. A frontline worker herself, Farleigh is a fierce advocate for the student athletes being allowed to play, given protocols can be adhered to to keep the kids safe during competition.
“Student athletes need to be heard and given the opportunity to play sports while doing their part in following the guidelines and protocols. Their mental health depends on it,” said Farleigh, whose daughter competes in field hockey, wrestling and softball. “Many student athletes depend on sports for motivation, discipline, stability and a sense of belonging.”
While the rally at Wilcox didn’t quite have the turnout they were hoping for, the Farleigh family hopes to hold another one later in January, with hopes of even more families coming out in support.
The tough part for those advocating a return to play locally is that Santa Clara County is one of the strictest counties in California. Even professional teams in the San Francisco 49ers, who play in Santa Clara, and the San Jose Sharks, who have resources for daily testing for all staff and players, have relocated to Arizona to play their games. While the 49ers season has concluded, the Sharks are still can’t play home games at SAP Center in San Jose.
The Farleigh family is determined to push forward in their cause. Amaya Farleigh, a sophomore at Wilcox, is hopeful that her softball season will be able to commence come the spring.
“[Softball] is less contact than other sports, like wrestling,” said the sophomore. “You don’t have to touch anyone or share anything besides the ball, and you can use different balls for each team.”
As things stand, high school sports will not start until Jan. 25, but the county could still decide to extend the current pause on sports.