The Department of Public Health commissioner and other state officials have received threats over the department’s recommendation that Connecticut high schools refrain from football this fall, Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz said in a Facebook post Saturday.
Aresimowicz, who also coaches the Berlin High football team, pleaded for the threats to stop.
“I’ve been made aware that many threats have been sent to the DPH Commissioner and other state officials,” Aresimowicz wrote on his personal page. “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!”
Glenn Lungarini, executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, similarly asked those angry about the cancellation of fall football to refrain from threats.
“All are entitled to their opinion and emotions, but threatening comments are not acceptable,” Lungarini tweeted. “I am willing to speak with anyone, but will not condone threats to any member of DPH, state officials, or CIAC staff.”
The CIAC announced Friday that it will not sanction full-contact football this fall. In explaining that decision, the CIAC cited DPH’s guidance that the sport was unsafe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some local superintendents had voiced reluctance to proceed with football without a go-ahead from DPH.
“Without DPH support, the CIAC cannot move forward with a full-contact season as it would place superintendents and boards of education in the impossible position of acting against the recommendation of a state agency,” the CIAC wrote in a statement Friday.
DPH has repeatedly cautioned about the dangers of full-contact football, suggesting a 7-on-7 version instead.
With the cancellation of the fall season, football teams will still able to condition as a team but will not be able to play games. Lungarini said Friday that the CIAC will consider combines, passing leagues and other activities as alternate options for football players in the fall.
Students and coaches have expressed frustration with DPH’s recommendation and the CIAC’s decision, with some students organizing a protest set for Sunday in West Hartford’s Blueback Square.
“There’s a part pare of me that’s angry, there’s a part of me that’s crushed, and there’s a part of me that’s sad,” Stafford/Somers/East Windsor coach Brian Mazzone said Friday. “There’s no way I can go five days with these kids. There’s no way I can keep these kids engaged [without games].”
Representatives from DPH and the governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Courant staff writer Shawn McFarland contributed to this report.
Alex Putterman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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