Governor Burgum postpones winter sports to mid-December

As the days have been getting colder, student athletes have been preparing for their winter sports. Some of these preparations include spending a bit more time in the weight room, and maybe even buying some new equipment for the upcoming season. However, on Nov. 13, ND governor Doug Burgum issued an executive order suspending all activities until Dec. 14, thus causing these students to halt their preparations.
Once the news was heard, protests of course ensued. About 50 people, including student athletes and their families, participated in a march from the state capitol to the governor’s mansion in Bismarck. They held signs reading “Let them play”, a phrase we have seen before in our neighboring state of Minnesota when their own fall activities were put on hold. And now, it is happening to us.
However, just five days after the original order, Burgum changed his mind. Activities can now begin on Nov. 30 with extra precautions, but competition will remain on hold until Dec. 14. Whether it was the 50 people holding signs outside his house or the 5,000 signature petition, we may never know what pushed our leader to give in to the angry parents. In the press release of the announcement, it lists a few influences on the decision. Some include the North Dakota High School Activities Association, legislators, parents, students, and mental health professionals. Notice how no medical people, like doctors or CDC officials, were listed as an influence…
The athletes are of course happy with this decision, because it means they get to play their sport. Senior Bella Ensrud of the North-South hockey team was excited to speak on this topic. “I’m honestly surprised that we’re having winter sports at all, but I’m very grateful that we’re able to play this year.” Many of them were worried about their whole season being cancelled like we saw last spring. But, as the allowed start date gets closer, the likelihood of it all being cancelled decreases significantly. If Burgum came on TV on Sunday night and said “Never mind, we are cancelling it for real now. Good luck!” There would be major backlash, even more than from the first order. But the question is, is a high school season worth more than the safety of our state?
As we have heard in the news lately, cases are still rising. Businesses are starting to crack down again on mask requirements and capacity limits. COVID-19 is not going anywhere soon, so we should all try to do our part in making it manageable. “I do think that the suspension was a good idea especially after the rise in cases once fall sports ended. I think if everyone wears their masks and is careful we should be able to have a full season and stay safe” said Ensrud. If you are planning on doing a winter sport, please do everything you can to stay safe. Do it for not only yourself and your family, but your team and their families, and even our whole school. We are lucky to get a chance at having a season, so let’s do our best to not mess it up.