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North Carolina mom starts petition to allow more families at high school sporting events

"It is a game-changer for so many kids. Sports is more than what we all think it is. It's a family. It's a brotherhood. It's a sisterhood."

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools resumed sports and extracurricular activities Monday. But even as sports resume, restrictions are in place due to COVID-19.

"We have been literally counting down on the calendar," Meagen O'Connell said. She's a mom of two Weddington High School athletes. 

WCNC anchor Sarah French asked her to talk about the last year -- specifically, what it was like for her kids not to be able to play sports. 

"Really hard, I would say probably harder on my son who's a junior," O'Connell said. "It is a game-changer for so many kids. Sports is more than what we all think it is. It's a family. It's a brotherhood. It's a sisterhood."

But after hearing of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper's executive order, allowing only 100 spectators at high school outdoor games, O'Connell said that's not right.

"A football roster carries 45 kids," O'Connell said. "Then you have cheerleaders. Then you have kids in the band, and with a 100 person limit right there one team maybe gets one ticket per child. And if you are an opposing team or if we are going to watch our kids somewhere else, we won't even be able to get in."

So she started a petition in hopes of getting maybe 10 signatures. Now it's at more than 17,000.

O'Connell said it's the first time she's done a petition. She says she's not asking for full capacity -- not even half capacity. Just more than what will currently be allowed.

"We're looking for anything over 100 -- we are looking for the ability for parents, grandparents, siblings to be able to come and watch the kids," O'Connell said. "For some of these kids, like seniors, this may be the last time they step on the field."

When asked what she hopes happens next, O'Connell said she hopes the governor gets the message.

"I hope Governor Cooper is listening," O'Connell said. "We just want him to think about what a small change can do for the kids of North Carolina and their families. We are 100% on board with masks, social distancing, but allowing families to be there for these big moments in their kids' lives."