McCOOK, Ill. (CBS) — COVID-19 has delayed the start of the fall sports season, and now, student athletes are rallying with a demand to get back on the field.

Hundreds of students and parents from the city and suburbs attended a rally to push for the reopening of schools and sports. They gathered at the MAX, or McCook Athletic & Exposition facility, in west suburban McCook.

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The students and coaches said activities and outdoor athletics are about more than wins and losses. They said sports can help students’ physical and mental wellbeing during these challenging times.

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“Activities and sports essentially shape who we are, and when that gets taken away, you’re not just taking away an activity or a sport or a hobby. You’re taking away a way of life; a passion. You’re taking away a routine and time and energy management, and in some cases, support that some of us may not have at home,” said Plainfield Central High School student Kaylie Dahms.

“I’m advocating for all the hardworking athletes who depend on scholarships to pay for their college,” said Wheaton Warrenville South High School student Jaylen Brown.

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The Illinois High School Association has sent a letter to Gov. JB Pritzker asking for control to decide when school sports can resume.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff