“Let them play.” These three words were written on almost every poster that surrounded the Connecticut State Capitol building on Wednesday, September 9, 2020. Football players, cheerleaders, parents, and even some coaches from around the state, were there to rally against the decision of canceling the fall football season. The previous night, Governor Lamont tweeted out that he was hoping for the football players to have an eleven on eleven spring season. Although it may have been enough to sway some of the players to stay home, there were still a lot in attendance of this rally with masks and signs letting everyone know they wanted their fall season.
The event was organized through a Facebook group composed of many people who disagreed with the CIAC ruling to prevent the fall football season because of the pandemic. The group originally planned to have the gathering be at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, which would have included a bunch of kids skipping school. Although the dedication was in the right headspace, it wouldn’t be very easy for the parents who would be working. Then the word got around that the event would get national news coverage if it was moved to 5 p.m., just in time for the Fox News broadcast.
Arriving there, people were already up on the stairs and filling in the lawn in front of the building with signs, posters, and even school flags. During the rally, not much of what the speaker was saying could be heard due to the lack of a megaphone. This seemingly unprepared mistake did not stop the audience from chanting “Let them play” as the speakers tried their best to yell over the crowd to share speeches they had prepared. Not only were there people yelling over each other, but people were also constantly bumping into each other while trying to move closer to the front and get on the steps. This was not very safe in regards to social distancing, but everyone was wearing a mask, so there was somewhat an attempt at preventing the spread.
During the rally, I was able to interview a few of the senior football players from some of the ECC teams. All of the young men interviewed have been playing football for at least six years, and football has been a constant for them every fall season. Every school interviewed, Waterford, Killingly, Ledyard, and Montville, reported that they were following the DPH and CIAC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They were showing up with masks, and Cooper Morrisette from Killingly mentioned how they were even wearing masks during some of the conditioning parts of their practices. On top of that, everyone was spaced out safely, six feet, with masks on and twelve feet without masks. Constantly sanitizing between stations, the small groups of ten players also had to wear gloves when touching the equipment. The precautions already being put into place were very thorough to ensure a safe season.
The one thing that the players wanted was any type of season. Most went to the rally in hopes of getting their regular but shortened, eleven on eleven full contact season. When it came down to it, they were willing to play any time of the year for football. Sam Menders, from Waterford, said, “Hopefully the CIAC and the State of Connecticut can open their eyes and see what it really means to us. It’s not just a sport… it is our brotherhood.” Although it would not be ideal, the players all said that they would be willing to play in the spring no matter the circumstance. All they want is a senior season that they had been working so hard on for the past three years. When asked if they thought it would conflict with the winter and spring, athletes most replied with, “Anything to play the sport.”
In the end, all these players want is a football season, regardless of the time or length of the season, as well as the chance to play and the opportunity to have that feeling of brotherhood and unity within a community. Although the regular fall football season will not be happening this year, there will be a safe seven on seven one hand touch season. This type of play is similar to the pre-season passing league that is normally conducted during the summer. The football players will be able to still play with some of those friends they have made. Even though the CIAC has closed the door for the fall season, the door is cracked for a spring season. Cross your fingers boys because there may be a chance to play. Wishing the best of luck with their futures and a hopeful senior season.
Natalie Poulton, Staff Writer
Senior Natalie Poulton is a staff writer for the 2020-2021 Colonel. She is a three-sport athlete who plays volleyball, basketball, and outdoor track. When she’s not at school or practice you can find her trying to pick between her three favorite Netflix shows; New Girl, The Office, and Parks and Rec.