Opinion Story: Masks During Competition go too Far away

Masks have swept the nation with no signs of COVID-19 slowing down anytime soon.  We see everyone wearing them, whether it is an athlete on the sidelines or front-line hospital workers. 

Not many people can say they enjoy wearing the masks, even when just sitting in one place. A lot of the complaints I have heard over the past few months have been that it is hard to breathe, the mask won’t stay up, or that the mask is just uncomfortable. 

Now imagine trying to run up at full speed back and forth for 32 minutes straight. Imagine having to practice playing basketball for 2-2 ½ hours a night with a mask on. I understand that we are trying to slow the spread of COVID, but wearing a mask while playing isn’t going to do that. You could transmit COVID from using the same ball as the other team. On top of that, the mask rule isn’t even enforced by officials. The officials are not allowed to enforce the rule because it is up to the game manager. If the people who are watching every play closely and are on the court with the players aren’t even allowed to enforce it, then how do you expect the players to respond 

I’m a player myself and I’m very grateful for the fact that I get to play my senior year. However, while masks are crucial to slowing the spread of COVID and I think that out in the public they are helping, but when a player is expected to play at a 100% every single night they shouldn’t have to wear something that doesn’t even let them breathe at a 100%. Also, the masks fall down. They don’t have a mind of their own and they can’t just stay up on their own. When you’re running and dribbling you can’t be focused on pulling your mask up. The focus during the game should be on the game, not whether or not a piece of cloth is covering my mouth and my nose. 

Another thing that doesn’t make sense to me is that college and professional basketball players aren’t wearing masks, but I have to. I’m playing someone from a county over and I have to wear a mask, but the Los Angeles Lakers play the Philadelphia 76ers who are 3,000 miles on the opposite side of the country and they don’t have to wear them. Things like a mask should be let up to the players own personal opinion. If someone truly is worried about getting COVID or giving it to someone else in their family, then they shouldn’t play or they can wear a mask. The bottom line is that COVID can be contracted in so many different ways that trying to limit it through the air in a contact sport isn’t going to slow the spread. I have played in games before where another player’s blood was on me. I’m not worried about him breathing the same air as me. 

2020 was a crazy year and 2021 doesn’t seem to be starting off much different. However, we have been doing this for almost a whole year now and I think that it is time that we have some changes to the rules. I played in a fall league at the Building II in Altoona and we didn’t have to wear masks and we never heard  anything about someone contracting COVID from the league. No one had to quarantine because of someone in the league testing positive or giving us a close contact issue. Overall, the masks are just unreasonable and the bottom line should be that if someone doesn’t feel good and they have symptoms then they shouldn’t play. Masks are ruining the sport for me. I want to be able to breathe and not be tired after playing for 20 min.