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Sports writer Miles Vance calls on Oregon governor to look at the numbers and allow high school sports to safely return

PMG FILE PHOTO - At this time last year, the Kennedy girls basketball team was gearing up to win its third state championship in the past five years. The Trojans are looking to defend their title this spring if the basketball season returns.To: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown

Re: Oregon high school sports

Dear Gov. Kate Brown: It's time to get out of the way.

Get out of the way of the businesses you've crushed with COVID-19 lockdowns over the past 10 months.

Get out of the way of the students who've seen their education deteriorate through almost a year of distance learning.

Get out of the way of the churches you've shuttered for ages, a choice that's diminished the spiritual lives of so many of our state's citizens.

PMG PHOTO - Miles VanceAnd please — please — get out of the way of the tens of thousands of Oregon high school athletes who have seen their dreams crushed and their college chances diminished by lockdowns designed to protect them from a virus that has — according to the Oregon Health Authority website — killed 0% of Oregon residents ages 0-19.

Oregon high school sports have been on hold since March 13, 2020 — the day that the state first locked down and, in the process, effectively ended the Class 4A, 5A and 6A boys and girls state basketball tournaments.

What followed was a lost spring that saw the busiest season of the school year — most of Oregon's big high schools field 10 varsity teams each in the spring — completely erased. Along the way, we saw dozens of teams — and hundreds of individuals — miss out on chances at state championships, not to mention lifelong friendships and memories.

Then, following a muddled summer that cost even more opportunities for competition, we saw fall season postponed, winter season postponed, all seasons shortened, then all seasons postponed again and shortened again.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Newberg and Canby wrestling teams, along with the rest of the winter sports athletes, have been unable to compete on the mat this season due to COVID restrictions.At the same time, across the country, 35-38 states played high school sports (http://t.maxpreps.com/3nmNBES) pretty much as normal in the fall, though almost all had to deal with occasional cancellations, rescheduled contests and quarantines along the way.

And in the winter, despite spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country, 30 states already have kicked off competition (http://t.maxpreps.com/3hOWYfp) while we in Oregon wait. And wait. And wait.

All the while, as of Jan. 8, Oregon ranks 48th in the country in COVID-19 cases per million (only Maine, Hawaii and Vermont have lower rates) and 47th in deaths per million — again, with 0% recorded among our 0-19 population — (only Alaska, Maine, Vermont and Hawaii have lower rates). See those rates here — http://bit.ly/2XlWoMW

This plea is not anti-science. Indeed, it is a plea that follows the recommendations of the scientists at the CDC (http://bit.ly/2Lzgr7L) who said back in September that students should be back in school, and in August, that the lockdowns bring with them a number of serious mental health consequences (https://bit.ly/3s8dw6T).

Please Governor Brown, it's time to get out of the way. Your lockdowns are harming more people than they're helping. It's time to #letthemplay.

Miles Vance is the prep sports editor for Pamplin Media Group and has covered Oregon high school sports for 33 years.


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