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Curveball: Parents, athletes hope to salvage spring sports

Utah high schools are preparing to return pay-to-play athletics fees to students. (STOCK PHOTO)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — There’s a new movement that hopes to salvage some of the high school spring sports season in Utah. It comes after the Utah High School Activities Association announced the cancellation of all spring sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Holding out hope

Although anticipated, the cancellation isn’t being well received by many student athletes and some of their parents. Entrepreneur Mark Comer, whose son plays baseball for Lone Peak, has created a video entitled “Let us Play” that is making the rounds online.

The video involves 18 programs across the state and around 60 athletes. As of Tuesday afternoon, the video has over 16,000 views on YouTube.

Speaking of his son, Comer says the sudden loss of sports has been difficult for him.

“It has been brutal,” he tells the Deseret News. “There will be three to four days in a row where he’s just really in a bad mood. It breaks your heart, as a parent, and I’m just one of many, many other parents seeing their kids have to go through this.”

In addition to seeking public support through heartfelt messages, advocates hope online petitions will gain more support.

Jon Oglesby, Assistant Director with the Utah High School Activities Association, provided a statement to KSL Newsradio Tuesday morning.

The UHSAA Board of Trustees (Board) promotes the benefits of participating in education-based high school activities and recognizes the overwhelming disappointment this decision is for the students and athletes, especially seniors. The Board’s highest priority is ensuring the health and safety of the students, schools and communities during this challenging time.

Salvaging the spring

While parents and athletes say they recognize the importance of steps taken to ensure safety, they feel this isn’t an “all-or-nothing” situation.

“There’s several different options,” explains Comer. “It’s not kids in classrooms. It’s outside with a very limited number of athletes on the field. I know the kids, parents and coaches are more than willing to work with any restrictions. Let’s just not quit. Let’s do everything we can to give these kids the type of experience they deserve.”