Putnam City students, coaches say ‘let us play’ amid COVID shutdown

Athletes from all fall sports and some winter donned their uniforms while holding signs and going through chants asking why they weren’t allowed to play. Although the orange and black, cardinal and gold and Columbia blue and gold jerseys are enemies in competition, they stood arm in arm fighting to get back on the field.

The students marched from a parking lot just west of the administration over to the front lawn a block away. They gathered, every person wearing a mask, and stood.

They chanted. They asked why opportunities were being taken away from them and others only minutes away were being allowed to compete.

Putnam North football coach Ryan Laverty learned of the district’s decision Friday a couple hours before his Panthers kicked off against U.S. Grant. He wasn’t told anything directly, but he found out through an email from his principal.

“We just want our kids to know they have a voice,” Laverty said. “And they do. They have every right to come and talk about decisions that influence their lives.”

The cancellation of games doesn’t affect only football but all fall sports. Fastpitch softball and volleyball have regional competition next week.

If Putnam City’s schools aren’t allowed to compete, they will not be eligible to qualify for the playoffs in two weeks.

The football teams are losing chances to qualify for the playoffs, and in a season where COVID is cancelling games, the teams need every opportunity to win.

(Story continued below…)

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