Lawsuit suggests stopping Michigan high school sports could have resulted in teenage death

A lawsuit against the Michigan state health director says the state’s shutdown of high school sports amid the pandemic could have directly led to the tragic death of a teenage hockey player.

The lawsuit filed in the Michigan Court of Claims is on behalf of a list of Michigan high school athletes and their families – collectively “Let Them Play Michigan, Inc.” – and the Michigan Amateur Youth Hockey League (MAYHL). They want high school sports, including basketball, wrestling, hockey and competition, to resume immediately.

One of these athletes is Brennan Dethloff, an 18-year-old hockey player from Mona Shores High School who died after a car crash on January 18. The lawsuit says Dethloff died of injuries sustained in the crash after “succumbing to the mental struggles he endured due to the continued delays in winter.” sports in Michigan. “

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Other plaintiffs include high school athletes who were unable to compete due to the contact sports ban under Michigan’s COVID restrictions.

Lawsuit Against Elizabeth Hertel, New Director of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Claims State Violates United States Constitution, Michigan Constitution, and / or State Law of Michigan by enforcing the MDHHS emergency order to stop contact sports like high school hockey and basketball.

Extract from the summary of the trial:

“The ordinance of January 22 of the MDHHS arbitrarily and irrationally chooses and deprives the plaintiffs of their rights and freedoms to associate with other students and to participate in sports competitions, while allowing other athletes of the secondary to compete in “non-contact” sports; older athletes to participate in “contact sports”; and businesses to operate that create greater public health risks than sports prohibited in high school.

Specifically, the MDHSS does not offer any data – nor can it – to support the lines it has drawn prohibiting high school athletics but allowing collegiate and professional athletics.

Currently, only certain sports, including football, are permitted to compete in Michigan high schools. It has become a controversial topic statewide, with the governor urging all schools to resume in-person learning by March 1.

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“The continued suspension of ‘contact’ winter sports contradicts the message that it is safe to return to in-person learning,” Detroit Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti wrote in a letter to Governor Gretchen Whitmer last week. “Just ask any winter sport athlete for ‘contact’ and they will tell you that we are sending them mixed and conflicting messages.”

During a COVID-19 briefing last week, Whitmer was asked about resuming contact sports.

“I was wondering if it was possible to set a specific date for the resumption of contact sports,” said a reporter.

Here is Whitmer’s full response on the subject from last week:

“When it comes to contact sports, we are watching the numbers very closely. I think it’s important to point out that, you know, as Dr. (Joneigh) Khaldun mentioned, the variant, the seriousness, and the highly contagious aspects of this variant.

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“It is important that we continue to monitor the numbers. I mean, I understand the concern of parents and athletes, and their desire to re-engage, but I also highlight some events that have just happened in recent days, with the growth of this variant in and around Washtenaw County. and around the University of Michigan Campus.

“I want to commend the University of Michigan for taking the steps it has taken. We believe these are the right steps to keep people safe, and our job is to try to stop the spread of this new variant in Michigan, and we need to not let our guard down.

“We have re-engaged restaurants to some extent. It will increase the number of people on the move, and I think it’s important that we stay very focused on the numbers before we take any further action.

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Among the list of allegations of constitutional violations made by this “Let Them Play” trial, there is an allegation that MDHHS violates the right to free education:

“The complainants have been arbitrarily and irrationally deprived of adequate education, an essential component of which is the ability to socialize and participate in sports competitions.”

Here is a letter they sent to Hertel last week:

The Michigan High School Athletic Association voted on the state’s winter sports break on Friday. They are asking the state to resume practicing and competing in the four main contact sports before the February 21 deadline.

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The four sports the MHSAA wants to resume are basketball, wrestling, hockey and the joy of competition.

The MHSAA said it spoke to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Elizabeth Hertel and had more access to her than with the previous director Robert Gordon.

Let Them Play, Inc. was threatening lawsuit unless high school winter sports resume on Monday February 1, according to the same, according to the MHSAA, winter contact sports have started in 38 other states.

The MHSAA has published this “Fact Sheet” on Contact Sports:

Read more: Governor Whitmer encourages Michigan public schools to reopen for in-person learning by March 1

Copyright 2021 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit – All rights reserved.


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