Professional athletes should not be required to wear a mask while playing

Professional athletes should not be required to wear a mask while playing

Ethan Rotko, Staff Writer

Thousands of professional athletes are back to playing, but have been quarantined due to COVID-19.  These athletes have been placed in bubbles and been asked to keep contact to a minimum.  This is a reflection of the way that health and safety has been made a priority for sports leagues worldwide.

As restrictions have been widely imposed throughout international and domestic leagues, health officials question the necessity of wearing masks during games.  Wearing a mask while playing a sport can be extremely difficult and detrimental.

“Opt for an activity that does not require using mouth guards or helmets.  Wearing a mask with these types of protective equipment is not safe if it makes it hard to breathe,” according to the CDC.

It is both dangerous and unnecessary for athletes to wear masks during games.  Most professional athletes in major sports are frequently tested for COVID-19.  Players should be required to wear masks while on the sidelines.  According to many sports league’s health and safety protocols, players, coaches, and staff members are required to wear KN95 or KF94 masks while not playing.  Athletes are allowed to sit by themselves in a “cooldown” area immediately after leaving games to catch their breath, but once they do, they must return to the bench and wear a mask.

“Wearing a mask is uncomfortable and annoying, and it can be hard to breathe with a mask while playing,” said sophomore Theodore Brodsky.

When athletes compete at a high level, masks can be a burden because they inhibit play.  Professional basketball players in the NBA do not wear masks while they play, and there have been few to no COVID-19 cases in the League this year because of the bubble that was created in Orlando.  Another important factor to consider is that some professional athletes have now been vaccinated, and this further decreases the spread.

Another problem with masks is that a sweat-soaked mask can cause breathing issues.  Additionally, if the mask is not cleaned properly, it could grow bacteria or fungi.  Breathability is an important factor while playing sports, especially those sports that involve substantial running.

“People should NOT wear masks when exercising, as masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably.  Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe,” said the World Health Organization.

Professional sports leagues should not require their athletes to wear masks while playing.  For the past six months, athletes have not been wearing masks while playing and there have been few COVID-19 cases.  However, athletes must wear masks on the bench.  Predictably, athletes will perform better if they are not required to wear masks while competing.