GAITHERSBURG, MD — As the pandemic drags into its seventh month, a group of high school football coaches is rallying to bring back in-person workouts at Montgomery County Public Schools.
Twenty-four members of Montgomery County Public School Football Coaches Association sent a letter to County Executive Marc Elrich and the school board, asking them to reinstate conditioning and skills-and-drills workouts for student-athletes.
“Football differs from many other sports such as soccer, lacrosse, basketball, and baseball where these sports have opportunities for athletes to participate at the club or (Amateur Athletic Union) level,” the letter read. “Athletes who participate in football have essentially been left to fend for themselves as it relates to training and skill development.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MCPS’ in-person athletics have been put on hold since Friday, March 13, 2020. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) recently announced that high schools could resume sports practices and competitions in the fall. But MCPS has decided to wait until at least Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.
The coaches say that’s too long a time-out.
For one: not all students can afford to train outside of school.
“Some families within the county can afford to pay for personal trainers, gym memberships, and workout equipment, while many other families cannot,” the letter read. “Training is becoming ‘pay to play.'”
The coaches also wrote that student-athletes are more likely to get injured next year if they go too long without training and conditioning.
And without training and conditioning, according to coaches, student-athletes’ mental and emotional health will suffer.
Gboyinde Onijala, a spokesperson for MCPS, told multiple media outlets that the school district will continue to follow its framework for virtual athletics.
“At this time, MCPS Athletics will continue operating virtually, as outlined in the R.A.I.S.E. Reimagined Framework for virtual athletics,” Onijala said. “The COVID-19 Task Force for MCPS Athletics will continue planning efforts for the safe return of in-person activities, when health metrics allow and in alignment with MCPS operations.”