The Interference of Masking in Sports

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Annelise Latham, Staff Writer

Yes, we have to wear masks during the school day, but does this extend to all aspects of the current high school experience?

As of right now, Illinois state law says that “guidelines further require that masks be worn indoors during all youth recreational sports.” But they are allowed to remove them under “certain circumstances” such as “when wearing a mask poses an undue risk of injury during certain sports,” according to the IDPH (Illinois Department of Public Health).

So those are the facts, but how does our athletic staff implement them?

At the head of the athletic staff is athletic director Matthew Lyke.

Lyke admitted while “we are in a better place this year than last year, we still have cases in our area and some of that comes back to the highschool and some of that is in our sports and activities.”

He also said that in order to try and prevent a COVID crisis, “we are going to address it (masking) as a conference consistently in all of our competitions,” Lyke said. “The discussion about having to stop events to remind student-athletes of the importance of wearing the mask has already gone on.”

Despite all of this being discussed now, the athletes themselves still play a huge role in this. While the season could go down without a hitch, it could also be catastrophic.

“I do not anticipate a shutdown for this year, however we may have some COVID-related issues, and if we do we will navigate through those,” Lyke said. “In terms of a shutdown, there would have to be an outbreak for us to start to cancel practices and competitions.” 

Depending on whether the sport is played indoors or outdoors, coaches are having different experiences enforcing Covid protocols, such as varsity girls’ field hockey head coach Julie Gaham, varsity boys’ basketball head coach Marc Condotti and varsity boys’ cross country head coach Brian O’Donnell.

All of these coaches had some interesting things to say.

Gaham and O’Donnell, who have been primarily outside for their seasons, thus not needing masks as frequently, both thought that their athletes have done a fairly good job of keeping their masks on when needed.

Condotti, whose season kicks off Nov. 8, is optimistic that “we can do a good job of utilizing the masks correctly during practices and game play.” Condotti also mentioned that while he understands that the masks aren’t ideal, especially while running around on a court, he “would choose that over cancellation.”

With seasons wrapping up and seasons just beginning, masking in sports likely won’t be going anyway anytime soon.