Should Masks Be Required for Indoor Sports?

Athletes around the country debate about the safety of masked sports


Courtesy of “The Declaration”

By Brenden Boyle

As the basketballs are dribbled, the volleyballs are hit, and the wrestling mats are pounded, indoor athletes require a high oxygen intake in order to stay healthy while participating in these intense sports. With COVID still circling, some leagues, districts, and schools have put a mask requirement on indoor sports. For athletes, parents, and fans, this is a highly debated topic nationwide.

Basketball, for example, has very close face-to-face contact with opponents. However, athletes sometimes need to pull their face masks down below their noses so they can breathe after running back and forth across the basketball court. It is not safe for them to wear a mask when they need oxygen to get into their system, and a mask will hinder their ability to do so. Reducing their oxygen intake while playing highly strenuous sports may lead to lightheadedness, dizziness, or even passing out.

“Training with a mask on can be incredibly hard to do, especially with the intensity of the workout,” senior Branden Reed said, “I hope at some point [athletes] are able to train without a mask on.”

Some parents might have concerns about their student athlete being exposed to COVID. To avoid this, players could be tested beforehand to see if they have the virus. Coaches, fans, and athletes not currently participating (on the bench) should have to wear a mask since they are not breathing at fast rates that require lots of oxygen. Most gyms do not require face masks during active exercise, and sports should be the same.

Currently, the CDC does not make an exception for school sports/activities concerning wearing masks. On the other hand, NBA players are not required to wear masks during participation if they are fully vaccinated. For student sports, being vaccinated does not matter in regards to wearing masks during sports. NBA players are exposed to more people in the arena compared to student athletes, but yet they still do not have to wear masks. It should be the same for student athletes too.

Even volleyball players are required to wear masks. They are more socially distant compared with outdoor sports, such as football. Football requires player-to-player contact, and masks are not required. Volleyball does not require close contact, but they are still required to wear masks just because it is indoor. 

Not only is mandating masks during indoor sports dangerous, but the rules in place are flawed and unfair. Some options are to either test student athletes before the game or allow vaccinated athletes to not wear masks during the game.