By CBSNewYork Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Student athletes in New York City are demanding “let us play.”

They are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to bring back high school sports, which have been banned for nearly a year.

READ MORE: Gov. Cuomo Says New York Sports Arenas, Stadiums Can Open At 10% Capacity Starting Feb. 23

High school senior Devin McKnight, from Queens, hasn’t touched a football since the fall of 2019. His dreams of playing in college are growing more and more out of reach.

He says it’s the city, not the pandemic that’s to blame.

“It’s like, do they care about us? That’s what it seems like, do they really care about us? Do they care about people trying to go to college?” he wondered.

Starting Feb. 1, high schools around New York State were allowed to return to interscholastic sports, as long as local officials gave the green light.

New York City hasn’t, and when asked, the mayor said his priority is reopening schools.

“We want to put health and safety first. So, I’m a huge sports fan, I would love to see kids have more opportunity to play sports again as part of coming back. We gotta do it the right way,” he said.

READ MORE: Rallies Held Across NYC Calling For Public Schools To Reopen, After-School Sports To Resume

George Lanese, whose nonprofit coaches kids, organized a rally last week to change the city’s mind. He claims every other county in the state has brought sports back to some degree except New York City.

“Schoolwork is dropping, grades are dropping, kids are dropping out of school,” he said.

Some students have taken drastic measures to continue training.

Harlem sophomore Moussa Kane transferred to a private school in New Jersey last fall, so that he could play football. He knows most kids don’t have that option.

“I was able to at least talk to my coaches, practice with them, learn from them. Intercity kids aren’t even able to do that,” he said.

Students and their families are planning another wave of demonstrations, hoping to convince the city to allow high school sports to return by spring, so those athletes won’t miss two seasons.

MORE NEWS: All Sports Allowed To Resume In Nassau County Starting Monday

CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team