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'Let Us Play!:' Student Athletes Rally At Thompson Center Asking For State To Allow Fall Sports Despite COVID-19 Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Student athletes rallied outside the Thompson Center Saturday as part of an ongoing push to let them play fall sports despite ongoing coronavirus concerns.

As CBS 2's Vi Nguyen reported, the student athletes had a message for both Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois High School Association.

The athletes who attended the rally Saturday morning were from across the city and suburbs.

"As athletes, sports means more to us than just a game with taking away fall sports," said Jaylen Brown, a senior football player at Wheaton South High School. "You're taking away our chances to learn valuable lessons and build lifelong relationships."

Student athletes across the state have not been able to play sports for months now because of the coronavirus.

"Illinois politicians - how would you feel if that was you?" said Ella Woltman, a freshman volleyball player at St. Laurence High School. "Would you be depressed or have anxiety, or you think having that mentality is an OK new normal?"

Some athletes believe it is taking a toll on their mental health. Myles Mooyoung is a senior at Kenwood Academy.

"I feel like I need a fair shot because that's all you could ask for," he said. "Anything that happens is on us, and if I get COVID from playing football, I'm fine with that, because I'm doing what I love."

Kenwood Academy is part of the Chicago Public Schools. Mooyoung said not being able to play football has affected many of his teammates, as they rely on the sport to escape the dangers of their neighborhoods.

"I know he's trying to keep us safe but some of my teammates - people at CPS - are actually put more in danger at the house and not with a team," he said.

Just days ago, the Big Ten council voted to resume the college football season, under a new schedule and a new set of health screenings.

Mooyoung's father, Troy Mooyoung, wants to know why his son can't play if athletes can play at the college and professional level.

"Let's make an educated decision, and not a political decision to take the super safe road and not give these kids an opportunity to play," Troy Mooyoung said.

Students plan to hold another rally on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. This time they will rally at Soldier Field before the Bears' home opener against the New York Giants.

We reached out to Gov. Pritzker's office for a response about the future of fall sports. The governor's office said there are no changes.


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