Athletes and parents rally to pressure Montgomery Co. to allow football games

High school football players gather in Rockville to rally to let football games to be played.

Parents of high school football players gather in Rockville to rally to let football games resume.

High school football players gather in Rockville to rally to let football games resume.

High school football players gather in Rockville to rally to let football games resume.


Some student athletes are rallying to change Montgomery County, Maryland’s stance on not allowing them to play contact football.

A new Montgomery County Public Health order prohibits football teams from having games. About 200 coaches, parents and athletes rallied Sunday in Rockville asking for a change.

The March 5 order said no full equipment, no contact, no scrimmages and no games for sports deemed high-risk for the coronavirus. That includes football, cheerleading and poms.

“I personally feel that the decisions that were made were made on dated information,” said Josh Funk, who played high school football in Montgomery County and helped organize the rally.

Those challenging the rule said all neighboring counties have either started games or have plans to soon.

They also cite the National Federation of High School Sports, which recently came out with updated information that there was no available research to support classification of any sports at all into risk categories.

“It’d be extremely challenging for me to see classmates that, because of the sport that I chose, I’m unable to play but everybody else is allowed to play,” Funk said. “At the end of the day, they have to be allowed to play.”

Dr. Lavanya Sithanandam is a parent, pediatrician and a Montgomery County Public School System alumnus. She said the move to allow football games to resume is not just about physical health, but about mental health as well.

“Football should be allowed to continue because it is played outdoors and with masks and proper mitigation, as these teams have been doing, there is very low risk of COVID transmission, especially outdoors on the field,” Sithanandam said.

She said that football is important for the community and the students at local schools.

“Pediatricians like myself are seeing a record rise in mental health issues and obesity,” Sithanandam said.

“Sports are critical to helping children and teens move forward. I’m concerned that, yet again, Montgomery County is an outlier in not only returning our children back to in person school, but also in being overly restrictive with its return to play guidance for youth sports.”

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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