#LetThemPlayWV Rally Recap: Comments from Gov. Jim Justice on rally, from WVSSAC’s Bernie Dolan on fans; Results of Winter Sports Questionnaire

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Governor Jim Justice heard the voices of high school athletes from around the state once against on Friday, as a small rally was held at the state capitol building.

A group of roughly 30 athletes from around the state gathered at the state capital with signs, expressing their desire to play the sports they love.

Earlier today, we brought you comments from two Lewis County athletes, who were at today’s gathering.

Justice received a bit of an ear full when he walked into the Capitol building to give his Friday press briefing, and he spoke about that rally today.

“What in the world could we possibly be doing to be out there trying to say we want to go play ball right now?” Justice asked during his press briefing. “They can yell, and bark at the moon all they want, but I am telling you without any question we’re doing the right thing here.”

Justice also added, “These kids are all out here and they’re yelling, and everything. A lot of them don’t have masks on, and a lot of them are out there just yelling and everything. ‘Let us play. Let us play.’ … They want to go, they want to play basketball, or they want to play whatever winter sport is there, and they’re insinuating that I’m the one that’s holding them back.”

Contrary to Gov. Justice’s comments, most – if not all – athletes in attendance Friday were wearing masks, as can be seen in a number of social media posts from the 12 SportsZone Twitter account, as well as posts from both Ryan Decker and Abbie Backenstoe.

You can find more comments from Governor Justice’s Friday briefing here.

Winter Sports Questionnaire Results

Meanwhile, it’s been eight days since the Governor announced that winter sports would be delayed until March 1. With the latest delay of basketball, swimming and wrestling, we wanted viewers to weigh in on the topic.

Roughly 50 percent of those that weighed in said they are a parent of a winter sports athlete.

Here is some of the data we collected:

  • 64% of those that weighed in believe it’s safe to play winter sports right now.
  • An even larger number of people (71.78) do not agree with Governor Justice’s decision to delay winter sports.
  • 60% believe that winter sports should be played either now, or within the next two weeks. While, 20% say they shouldn’t play at all.
  • Those that weighed in were also split on how many people should be allowed inside to watch those sports. Nearly 34 percent of folks believe that there should be less than 25% capacity allowed, while 31 percent of voters believe there should be greater than 25% capacity.
  • Nearly 80% of those that voted said that they would be willing to not be in attendance for winter sports competitions if it meant winter sports could be played.

Playing without fans, according to WVSSAC Executive Director, Bernie Dolan, could be what ultimately has to happen in order to allow winter sports to be played.

“We are hoping that we can get kids to play,” Dolan said in an interview with 12 Sports earlier this week. “If people get to watch, that’s great. But, our hope is that they can play. Many places (schools) can live stream, so if the parents want to watch they can watch. If it comes down that says, play with no fans, then we fully support that, and we’ll move forward with that.”

It still remains to be seen, of course, if that would be the case. However, that is the case for schools within the Mountain East Conference, as those teams began their season Thursday in front of empty arenas.

As mentioned in an earlier report, Dolan also told 12 Sports earlier this week that he and the WVSSAC are submitting a new calendar proposal to the Governor, an action they took prior to Gov. Justice speaking with the media on Friday.

At this time it appears no decision has been made from Charleston on that proposal.

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