Protests for St. Louis County youth sports continue

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page speaks during a news conference Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Town and Country, Mo. Protesters are asking Page to change his policy prohibiting the play of sports such as high school football and hockey during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

CLAYTON, Mo. | Protests against St. Louis County restrictions on high school sports continued Monday, when hundreds gathered outside the St. Louis County government center to demand that limits be lifted.

Protesters urged Democratic County Executive Sam Page to rethink his policy prohibiting some high school sports such as football and hockey to be played due to the coronavirus.

Among them was Elizabeth Schweppe, 47, of Town and Country, whose 14-year-old son is a freshman at a private school sidelined from his favorite sport – hockey.

“There is zero proof that kids are transmitting this at school,” Schweppe said. “If kids can go to Six Flags and ride a roller coaster, why can’t they be on the ice playing hockey?”

Page last week lifted some restrictions on youth sports. The county now allows sports with little or no direct contact to be played, including cross-country, tennis, golf and swimming.

But there’s still a ban on high-contact sports such as football, basketball and hockey.

Groups of 30 or fewer can practice such sports.

Doug Stockenberg, 48, of Des Peres, has two daughters, an 11-year-old and a 14-year-old high school freshman. He said his older daughter plays volleyball, but his concern is broader. To Stockenberg, the government simply shouldn’t be dictating what schools can and cannot do.

“This comes down to parents should have the opportunity to make the decisions for their families,” Stockenberg said. “And government needs to stay out of it.”

More than 200 people also protested outside Page’s home Sunday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The St. Louis area has been the hardest-hit region of the state. St. Louis County alone has seen 20,899 confirmed cases and 756 deaths since the pandemic began.

Missouri’s health department on Monday reported 1,332 new confirmed cases and nine more deaths. All told, the state has reported 104,079 confirmed cases and 1,714 deaths.