Masking the Issue

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Youth sports

As the pandemic continues to affect our daily lives, parents and coaches are attempting to bring the routine of America’s youth back to normalcy.  In particular, a group referred to as “Let Them Play MN” has taken legal action and is asking Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to end the COVID-19 mandate affecting youth athletics.  The restrictions require athletes participating in youth sports to wear masks during practice and game time.  Supported by medical experts, the group of parents and coaches are concerned about the masks hindering breathing abilities and visibility.  Both may lead to an increased potential for injury.

Despite the obvious and potential respiratory and field of vision risks, the group is also claiming that the mandate is biased.  College-level and professional sports teams were allowed to carry on their seasons without the restriction of wearing a mask during games. The “Let Them Play MN” group felt that if the professional and college sports teams were not mandated to wear a mask while playing, the youth sports in Minnesota should receive the same treatment.

This is not the first attempt at legal action.  The same group initiated a lawsuit in the past when the Minnesota Governor temporarily paused youth sports.  The judge did not rule in the group’s favor and that lawsuit has ended. In this present lawsuit, however, the group is claiming that the Minnesota Department of Health allegedly did not provide consistent findings that confirmed the severity of COVID-19 risks in youth sports participation.  While medical experts have stated that the masks do not inhibit cardiovascular exercise significantly, there is a chance the athlete may perceive a shortness of breath. Additionally, the placement of the mask on the athlete’s face, if not secure, may move to block visibility.  If the athlete’s field of vision is reduced, the possibility of sustaining an injury is heightened.