By Anica Padilla

(CBS4) — Hours after high school athletes gathered for a protest in Highlands Ranch, Gov. Jared Polis announced he was working with the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) to allow football and field hockey in the fall.

We are currently working with @CHSAA to approve variances for football and field hockey, and we will work together to develop guidelines or variances for additional sports at a later date and indoor sports when they can safely be played,” Gov. Polis tweeted Friday evening.

During a news conference on Friday afternoon, Polis said “the window is still open” to allow high school football and field hockey for women in the fall.

After the protest was announced, CHSAA released a statement saying commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green would be meeting with the governor’s office on Friday to “gather information about potential variances the state would allow for all sports.”

The release from assistant commissioner Bert Borgman states:

“On Tuesday afternoon, following multiple conversations with the Governor’s office, it was made clear to Blanford-Green that the variances she has sought from the COVID-19 Response Team since June in order to play certain sports would not be given. This information was conveyed to the Board of Directors prior to their meeting, and vote, on Tuesday evening.

“It is apparent that the COVID-19 Response Team has now changed their position. The Governor made a public statement on Thursday, and then gave the Commissioner a verbal reassurance on that same day, that the variances we have been asking for would be expedited.

“Blanford-Green is meeting with the Governor’s office to get details in writing about the variances that his office will allow.

“Additionally, major concerns of the Board of Directors were that many schools are still trying to safely return to in-person learning, and still remain unable to physically access their buildings. Certain districts do not have the financial resources to be able to safely begin fall sports. The Governor’s office has indicated that it may be able to provide resources to schools to help facilitate their activities programs. Blanford-Green is also seeking to further clarify this possibility.

“In light of this new information, the Board of Directors and CHSAA staff are working collaboratively to survey administrators from the entire membership to gather their input.”

Trent Schield, who organized the protest in Highlands Ranch, said CHSAA originally cited orders by Polis when refusing to allow fall football, but pointed out that Polis has now given the green light to play football in the fall.

Schield said Colorado is now one of the only states not playing in the fall and said it will have a devastating effect on student athletes who need to submit their films to college coaches.

“Signing Day is before our season even starts,” Schield told CBS4. “Scholarships that these kids are depending on are being lost… Athletes are depending on this or they can’t go to college.”

The web site letCOplay.com features the stories of dozens of athletes who say the will be negatively impacted by not playing in the fall.

“They have worked for years and put in thousands of hours to reach their goals. For them, football is NOT just a game. It is their job. It is their career plan. It is their future. It is how many plan to pay for college,” the web site states.

Additionally, Schield said it will be dangerous for the students to start playing in February.

“It’s not safe. The conditions in February — that’s the coldest month of the year in Colorado, we don’t have indoor facilities,” he said.

“We’re asking for our state to have the same treatment as all of the other states that are switching from spring to fall.”

Anica Padilla

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