Should Basketball Players Be Required to Wear Masks?
January 14, 2021
With the winter sports season officialy happening, two Round Table writers go head-to-head over the issue of whether masks should be worn during play.
Masks should be a mandatory precaution
With winter sports seasons recently being approved to play by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the continuation of wearing masks must be stressed to players. It is a known fact that the virus spreads much faster and more efficiently indoors; since almost all winter sports take place indoors, wearing a mask must be a mandatory precaution toward everyone’s safety.
Before I get into my argument, here is a more in-depth rundown of how the virus spreads. COVID-19 infects others mostly through person to person contact. Those ways of transmission tend to be respiratory, such as sneezing, coughing, or talking. All of these actions leave and enter via your mouth, which is why the protective mask is so important.
I understand that masks can feel uncomfortable and annoying, and it’s not something we’re used to. However, we need to think about this in a more compassionate way. Although the death rate is relatively low for COVID-19, over 290,000 Americans have died from the virus already, and that number is only increasing. We need to think about those who are more susceptible to the virus, those who can’t afford to get sick.
A sport such as basketball, where you are breathing heavily and usually around other players is a prime example as to why wearing a mask would be crucial. Transmission in sports can have a long-lasting effect you may not want to deal with. Your teammates and opponents will all have to quarantine for two weeks before returning to school. Not only is your health at risk, but your education is going to hurt from the missed days of school.
My passion for this topic comes from my dad who has heart disease. His disease unfortunately puts him at very high risk for COVID-19 complications. Because of his situation, I have become much more aware of the people around me and how important it is to minimize transmission not only for myself, but for my family. Let’s make sure to be safe this winter.
Focus should be on testing, not masks
Throughout professional sports, the guidelines behind wearing a mask are pretty strict, as teams want their players and staff to be as safe as they can. COVID-19 has proven to take some tolls on the overall game in these professional sports. The NBA had to postpone their playoffs by a couple months, and host games in a “bubble” in Orlando, and the Denver Broncos of the NFL just recently had to play an important game without a traditional Quarterback, as all three of their quarterback’s had COVID-19. Part of the measures taken in professional sports to keep everyone safe is testing the athletes daily. To save Stamford’s winter sports, the best thing that can be done is weekly COVID-19 testing.
On a local level, it has been shown that Stamford is doing all they can to keep their city healthy and safe while dealing with this global pandemic. Unfortunately, that came at the expense of the basketball season being postponed by a couple of months. This not only comes on the high school and middle school level, but also the travel and recreational leagues. There has been much discussion as to whether athletes should be wearing their masks on the court, and the question remains this: Will the caution around COVID-19 restrain the true athletic ability of these basketball players? The simple answer to this is to conduct weekly COVID-19 testing.
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has just recently announced that select winter sports, including basketball, will be able to start practicing on January 19, and even begin playing games by February 8. When they do start playing, however, will athletes be forced to play basketball with a mask on? This may seem like a mandatory statement, as of course they must wear a mask to stay safe, but there is a simple answer to this question. Teams should simply get a COVID-19 test once a week, and as long as all tests are negative, the sport can be played. This makes it so that there is no need for an athlete to wear a mask when driving to the rim or sprinting down the court.
One of the Senators of Michigan, Lana Theis, said “Wearing a mask while on the sidelines in close physical contact makes sense and should be encouraged. But to require athletes to ‘mask up’ while competing is a penalty they should not be required to suffer. Please amend your executive order and let our athletes breathe.”
Wearing a mask while competing is a ridiculous task, and athletes will lose stamina, comfort, and overall performance levels if they are forced to do so.
Dr. Sean Cook, a family physician with Green Brook Family Medicine, with a specialty in sports medicine, claimed, “What we would expect to see in terms of physiological changes would be increased body carbon dioxide and a trend towards increased body temperature, because it would impair your thermoregulation,” said Cook. “A lot of heat you breathe out of your mouth, and intuitively I think it would decrease oxygen levels.”