OSAA lifts mask requirement for outdoor sports


Greg Artman

Senior track athlete Sebastian Pinger gets ready to compete in a race with his mask on.

On April 26th the OSAA created new mask requirements for outdoor, non-contact sports that are in their spring season. This change in the guidelines means that athletes competing more than 6 feet apart outdoors are no longer required to wear masks. The two sports it will most affect are track & field and tennis.

While many believe that these new requirements are a step in the right direction, the ambiguity of the new guidelines has caused some confusion. While long-distance track events like the 1500m race and singles tennis matches are in the clear to not wear masks, some other activities are a bit of a gray area.

For example, baseball players are often 6 feet away from each other, but there are certain times when base runners are within 6 feet of infielders, and the hitters are within 6 feet catchers; so does this mean they should wear masks or not?

Similarly, in shorter track events like the 100m hurdles, the runners are close to each other in their lanes. Many sports will default to wearing masks at all times unless it is clear that competitors will not be within 6 feet of each other at any point. 

Senior track athlete Colby Guenther offered some insight into how he feels about the new mask guidelines in sports and more specifically in track. He said, “I think it is very important to wear masks in any place where there are people around or close to you in general; however, I think in outdoor sports it’s a different story. When kids are competing and breathing heavily, the masks become a hindrance, and I think in sports like football when athletes are already up against each other the masks do little to protect anyone. Furthermore, in a sport like track where the runners are spread far apart, there’s no need to be wearing a mask at all. It’s already hard enough to breathe when you’re running long-distance, and the masks make that harder. I think that athletes should not have to wear their masks while competing, but when they’re at the meet and not competing, masks should be required. I fully support the new mask guidelines for athletes, and I think that it will do little to harm any competitors.”