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From the press box

By Dan Hardenbrook

Everybody is talking and has an opinion about what’s best to do now, and how we should handle athletics at school. I ask, for the student athletes and families who have been punished: Why aren’t we allowed to make a choice?

It’s a simple question, from the two groups that matter the most but seem to be the ones nobody is willing to listen to. Why is that? How did we as a society get to the point where kids can longer be kids without some so-called experts calling the shots?

This is bigger than sports. This is so much bigger than a game. Why can’t a parent decide if something is safe enough for their child?

Before March, that’s what we did, and nobody batted an eye. You want your kid to play football or hockey? You sit down with them and have a family decision and do what YOU think is best for YOUR family. Who in their right mind honestly thinks they can make those decisions in the best interest of these families? We don’t tell the governor or the members of the MHSAA how to raise their kids. Why the heck do they get to tell us how to raise ours?

If the state wants to start caring for each individual kid, then so be it. If the MHSAA would give the millions they make off of school sports each year back to our kids and our school districts, that would be great. But they aren’t going to do that. Until then, they have no right to tell our families what’s best for them individually.

All of this can be solved with a few easy yes or no questions.

Does your kid want to play?

Are you comfortable with your kid playing?

Do you feel that they can do so safely?

If the answer is no that’s fine. You have the right and you deserve to make that decision. That’s your family. Your choice.

If you answered yes to those questions, then your kid should absolutely be able to play. No governor, no sports association, no “expert” should be able to tell you differently. You all recently made a similar choice. In person or online schooling? You sat down, weighed the pros and cons, and made the choice that was best for you and your child. I’m sure you even asked them what they thought. Why can’t sports be the same?

There are kids and families who need this. Kids and families who want this. There are kids that are willing to take the chance, follow the rules, stay safe, and do things the right way. These are all things that we want our kids to learn.

Sadly, parents are also being punished. Parents see the changes in their kid’s demeanor. They know how much not playing hurts them mentally and physically. What gives the “experts” the right to take away your power as parents?

This isn’t some radical way of thinking. It’s been done at every level. Players in the pros, all the way down to youth leagues in a number of states, are letting the players pick. Opt in and agree to follow the rules and you can play. If you choose to opt out because you feel it is unsafe for you and your family, that’s fine. You’ve earned that right. The point is that everyone gets to pick whether they play or not. It’s up to them; everyone wins.

Unless you’re here in Michigan, where the experts, the politicians, and the “nonprofit” MHSAA that makes money off of your kid’s games are picking what they want to play, when they want them to play, and more importantly who they want to play.

Parents and kids, ask yourselves this. How come nobody has asked YOU what’s best for YOUR family? And why are we punishing the people who want to do the right things the right way?