It started with a swift outpouring of frustration on Twitter Friday morning after CIAC announced the board of control voted not to allow 11×11 full contact interscholastic football in the fall. Parents and players lambasted what they described as weeks of CIAC indecision.n
The State Dept of Health had recommended on Aug 23 that teams instead play 7×7 style of football without tackling or line play, but CIAC had held out hope that if low Covid positivity numbers continued, they could work toward normal full contact play.
At one point in August the CIAC asked for DPH input, but didn’t wait for it.
CIAC Director Glenn Lungarini announced on Aug 12 the Board of Control’s decision to stick with 2020 Fall Sports Plan.
Then, after receiving Dept of Health input on Aug 13, CIAC it announced it would pause footballt activity, including conditioning programs until Aug 24.
Fast forward to Friday, Sept 4 CIAC Tweeted, “Without DPH support, the CIAC can not move forward with a full contact season…”
The organization did not specify whether a 7×7 format would be adopted.
The pushback was immediate.
Parents and players Tweeted that summer workouts were a waste of time and that weeks of CIAC indecision strung athletes along.
Then on Saturday, the negative feedback escalate to threats.
In response, CIAC director Glenn Lungarini Tweeted, “All are entitled to their opinion and emotions, but threatening comments are not acceptable. I am willing to speak with anyone, but will not condone threats to any member of DPH, state officials, or CIAC staff.”
Joe Aresimowicz, the CT Speaker of the House who is also the Berlin High School Head football coach, posted on his Facebook a comment calling out the threats.
“I’ve been made aware that many threats have been sent to the DPH Commissioner and other state officials. Just like many players, coaches and parents, I too am upset about high school football being canceled. I also spoke my piece about how I believe the Commissioner of Public Health got this wrong. Despite our feelings, we cannot tolerate threatening people! What the heck happened to disagreeing and even being mad without this nonsense. Please stop!!!! The kids are looking at us to show them how they should act when they’re adults!”Joe Aresimowicz, via Facebook
Then, CIAC director Glenn Lungarini Tweeted a similar plea, saying, “All are entitled to their opinion and emotions, but threatening comments are not acceptable. I am willing to speak with anyone, but will not condone threats to any member of DPH, state officials, or CIAC staff.”
Some comments were disturbing.
One parent appeared to issue a call to arms on Aresimowicz’s Facebook saying, “No rational basis exists for the cancellation. Just tyranny by an unscrupulous state actor. Roll over and play dead or fill your high capacity magazines.”
The same day, he posted a comment saying, “So sad that the DUMBOCRATS of Corrupticut take away high school football to further their political agenda. What is next, freedom of expression, right to bare arms? Free boxcar rides?
Meanwhile players Tweeted at Governor Ned Lamont on social media with the hashtag #letusplayCT, with many Tweets featuring photos of players in masks holding signs with slogans like, “We followed the rules. Stop changing the game,” and “We followed the rules, Let us Play.”
Meanwhile players started a change.org petition to the CIAC and Dept of Public Health for full contact 11×11 football in Connecticut this fall.
As of Sunday at 1:00pm, it had garnered 31,346 signatures.
The petition, which calls out the CIAC for “indecisive and inconsistent announcements,” says, “Connecticut has some of the best covid statistics in the entire nation, yet we are not joining the other 35 states who have decided it is safe enough to play high school football this fall.”
On Sunday around noon, players and parents gathered for a ‘Save High School Football’ Rally in West Hartford, assembling in Blue Back Square, then marching to the Town Green. Teams from Torrington, Bristol, Southington, and as far as Norwalk, made the trip.
Parents and players spoke to the assembled protesters, coaches and parents, urging each other to contact the Dept of Public Health, Governor Lamont and elected officials to demand a football season, even if it is not until spring.
“We’ve been quarantining 6 months. We followed the science. ….Look at the numbers, look at the numbers and let us play!” a player shouted to huge applause and more chants.
Additional rallies are in the works, possibly at the state capitol or the Dept of Public Health.