Mask up or ride the bench


Photo credit: Amelia Nowicki

By Amelia Nowicki, Editor-in-Chief

It’s been a year, and some of us still don’t get it. We’ve been over this. Wear. A. Mask. Believe it or not, we’re still in a pandemic, and for those of us in struggling areas (like Michigan), wearing a mask is and always has been an essential weapon in fighting against COVID-19. Yet, some of us are still failing to recognize this.

After a delay in the spring sports season due to COVID-related postponements, athletics are in full-swing. However, I’ve noticed that despite many teams’ long wait to step foot onto their respective fields, people still aren’t wearing masks in times where they’re necessary. Why? 

As per Michigan High School Athletic Association guidelines, masks must be worn for all contact sports (in both practice and competition), during down time in non-contact sport play (for example, baseball and softball players have to wear masks when in the dugout) and all coaches and team personnel should have them on at all times. These bare minimum requirements are still being violated however, and it’s infuriating to witness. 

At the end of the day, especially for sports with a plethora of down time, it’s not that difficult to wear a mask. When you’re sitting with coaches and other team members, it requires little to no physical exertion, meaning that the excuse it’s hard to breathe is futile. Other than selfishness, there is absolutely no viable reason that you can’t wear a mask for 15 minutes at a time, and by not wearing one when you’re supposed to, you’re sacrificing your already high-risk season and the playing opportunities of your teammates and opponents. 

Most of us students have seen the impacts of COVID-19 on fall and winter athletics, and it makes zero sense to me that you wouldn’t want to take precaution to avoid cancellations and quarantines. As we near the end of the season, the risk of a two week quarantine becomes increasingly risky because it could mean the ending of someone’s athletic career — especially for seniors. The fact that many would rather jeopardize their last high school sports season than wear a piece of fabric in increments of mere minutes is just astonishing. 

It’s so simple to wear a mask. Although it varies from sport to sport, it’s important to learn what has to be done in preventing the spread of the virus through athletics. Already, sports are at risk of being cancelled. So many athletes fought so hard for their seasons with the Let Them Play Protests, and yet the same people are behaving irresponsibly day in and day out. 

We are in the home stretch of the pandemic, meaning now is not the time to loosen up with restrictions. Just because you play a sport does not mean that you are granted any special privileges, and therefore it’s imperative that you take the correct precautions — just like everybody else — in order to pay your dues to end this ongoing tragedy. As athletes, we should know what it means to be a team player, and when the “sacrifice” is barely that, it’s more than attainable to suck it up, take one for the team, and wear a mask when we’re supposed to.