Balancing science and common sense
On January 4, high school teams were allowed to begin practice for a heavily restricted winter sports season, with competitions having started on January 14. Updated guidelines have been released in attempts to mitigate the virus, requiring face coverings for all participants during both practice and competition. An exception has been made for wrestling, gymnastics, cheerleading, swimming, and diving where athletes are allowed to briefly remove face coverings in competition during activities in which wearing a mask could prove hazardous or impossible. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends masks be worn at all times during athletics, however, they also stated “face coverings should be changed immediately if they become saturated with sweat,” a feat that for some sports, will be impossible.
The transition back into sports has been met with vastly varied responses. An organization called “Let Them Play,” which consists of coaches, parents, athletes and referees, has taken legal action against the governor as well as other state agencies. Part of their efforts have been dedicated to overturning the mask mandate with members calling it “absurd”, “dangerous”, and a source of irrational harm. Regulated athletics are far better than none, however, this upcoming season will be met with many challenges. The increase of restrictions since the fall has been a source of frustration, especially for outdoor sports like skiing that have to follow the new rules despite being no more at risk than outdoor fall sports were. Additionally, the far more popular and profitable college athletics still find themselves exempt from many restrictions that would cause athletic hindrances. Regardless, the return of sports should be a source of celebration.