ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) — Many parents and high school athletes are speaking about new restrictions on youth sports in St. Louis and St. Louis County, which take effect on Friday.
“I feel like we’re doing more harm to our kids by not playing than we are by playing,” said Danielle Lansing, whose son is a football player at Chaminade College Preparatory School.
On Sept. 11, high-frequency contact sports for those over the age of 14, including football, basketball, lacrosse, wresting and rugby will face more restrictions. The most significant restriction will be that athletes in those sports will not be allowed to play in games.
In the City of St. Louis, the list of sports prohibited from playing games includes baseball, softball, field hockey and volleyball.
According to St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, the positive rate between 15 and 19 years old is near 20%, whereas all other age groups the rate is near 6%. For high school athletics, Page is recommending that fall sports be moved to the spring.
Some high school athletes told News 4 they’ve worked hard at playing sports in hopes it could lead to a scholarship to pay for college. And the new guidelines leave their future up in the air.
“This year, my senior year is going to be a big year for me. Had a bunch of colleges contact me saying they wanted to see my senior year,” said Jordan Calvin, a senior at DeSmet Jesuit High School.
Another DeSmet football player, Carter Edwards, said he doesn’t understand why the rest of the state can allow football games but not St. Louis city and county.
“You look at other schools that are 15 minutes away and they’re having full games,” he said.
Parents of student athletes started a Facebook page to voice their opposition to the new guidelines. It’s called “STL Sports Families Against Youth Sports Mandate” and in less than 24 hours had nearly 8,000 members.
Attorney Albert Watkins represents an African American family with a son who plays football. He said the restrictions disproportionally affect African Americans because a higher percentage receive college sports scholarships than the percentage of African Americans in the population.
But he said his office has been contacted by hundreds of students and parents since the new guidelines were announced.
“In effect this unilateral action by our county executive without any scientific basis, without any medical basis and certainly without any anecdotal truth behind it as captured and smashed the dreams of a really healthy number of young men and women athletes of color,” said Watkins.
Watkins said he sent a letter to Page asking him to rescind the new restrictions or he may go to court to try to block them.
Students have organized a “Let Them Play” rally for Sunday night at 7 p.m. on Windsor Terrace Lane in Creve Coeur.
Read the full list of guidelines for St. Louis County here. Read the full list of guidelines for St. Louis here.
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