By Bailey Miller
CSAC has recently announced that masking for student athletes during athletic competitions is no longer required. This has faculty and students questioning if masking during competitions is a necessity or simply an extra precaution.
COVID-19 has had a huge effect on the normality of the world and it has been a struggle to adapt to for the athletic department at Wilson College. Deciding which precautions to take to assure the safety for student athletes has been no easy task. The question at hand is: are masks necessary during competitions?
The necessary COVID precautions Wilson has had to take have been difficult, especially while attempting to make everyone agree upon one decision. Tina Hill, the athletic director at Wilson, explains the struggle of staying up to date on COVID precautions saying, “It’s been very challenging to stay on top of all that information and make sure we are making decisions based off the latest recommendation.”
Not everyone has agreed upon what is the safest way to proceed with athletics, but one thing is for sure, everyone can agree that adjusting athletics because the pandemic has been a challenge nonetheless. Head women’s soccer coach Terry Harris explains the process of planning a spring season for the soccer team saying, “[It’s been] extremely difficult…you don’t know from day to day what rules are going to come out, what rules are going to change.”
Masking and COVID testing have been Wilson’s way of preventing the spread of the virus. One important aspect to wearing masks, other than for safety, is that it saves money. Tina Hill explains this by saying, “if you wear masks, your testing regimen is less frequent.” With COVID testing being quite expensive, this saves Wilson from extra costs.
While wearing masks seems like the safest option, many find them bothersome. When she heard the news that CSAC is allowing athletes to forgo masks, Paige Reynolds, a player on Wilson’s women’s lacrosse team, said she was “very relieved because it’s a lot easier to breathe.”
Wearing masks during games can be quite restrictive when it comes to playing to the best of one’s best ability. Harris explains that since masks are such a bother to wear during games, “90% of the athletes that I’ve seen in competition that are wearing masks usually pull them down below their chin anyway.” This makes the act of wearing masks during competitions seem pointless as athletes do not wear them correctly because they either fall down or they physically struggle to breathe with them.
Concerns about inability to breathe properly arise when discussing masking for athletic competitions. If there were to be heavy rain or extreme humidity during a game, this could cause problems for the athletes if they were to be wearing masks. The act of masks falling off one’s face could also pose as an issue as Hill states, “I don’t want a mask to get out of position that may affect their safety.” Harris he suggests another concern, saying, “if we are wearing masks and you start pulling it below your chin, they become a choking hazard…and you don’t want that.”
Masking during competitions seems like the safest option to prevent the spread of the virus. For some players and faculty, masks bring problems for the athletes with breathing problems and some safety hazards. With CSAC lifting the restriction of wearing masks during games, some people relieved, and others concerned for their safety.