Athletes, parents protest SCS decision to postpone fall sports

Pushback on postponement of contact sports in Shelby County Schools

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools' decision to postpone fall sports until further notice has been a hard pill to swallow for some students and parents.

So much so, a group of students and parents are gathered at the Shelby County Schools Board of Education to peacefully protest the district’s decision.

Athletes from several high schools were outside the Board of Education Wednesday. While most were football players, they were quick to say this decision is not only affecting them, but thousands of other athletes playing fall sports.

“I’m frustrated. We’re all upset,” Kirby High School Senior Football Player Kaleb Almo said.

While many football players across Shelby County Schools share the same feelings, those at a protest Wednesday morning wanted to show a unified front- all schools and all sports speaking together to ask the district to not postpone fall sports.

SCS athletes, parents protest district's decision to postpone fall sports

“We have cheerleaders and females out here who want the same opportunity as us,” Almo said. “They want to go to the next level too.”

“We definitely want you to be here, but at the end of the day we want to make sure you’re academics are there and you’re safe,” SCS Director of Student Affairs Dr. Billy Walker said.

On Tuesday, SCS Superintendent Dr. Joris Ray announced the postponement of contact sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Shelby County Health Department continues to average about 100 new cases a day, a statistic that has district officials concerned for the health of their student-athletes.

Ray says, in the meantime, the district will work to do all it can to return to play. And contact sports could resume once SCS returns to in-person learning.

He says conditioning and independent workouts can continue.

Some parents and coaches disappointed in SCS postponing sports

On Wednesday morning, Ray also announced the district will assist junior and senior student-athletes with recruiting efforts free of charge.

“It’s difficult for us seniors not to play on the field and seeing other kids around Memphis play,” Cordova High School Senior Football Player Aaren Alexander said.

The district said families will have the option to participate in sports when in-person classes resume.

“Safety is first, academics is second,” Walker said.

It was not just players demanding the district allow sports. Parents said they should’ve been the ones to make the call.

“The person next door is playing every day but when you come outside you’re stuck on your porch. That’s not fair,” Overton High School Parent George Thomas Jr. said.

Many other municipal school districts and districts across the Mid-South have not postponed sports. There has been no announcement regarding SCS winter and spring sports.

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