Hundreds Report Problems Over Gov. Walz’s Mask Mandate for Youth Sports

It will be challenging enough for student athletes to keep up on the ice or basketball court this weekend as school sports resume competition, given their lack of conditioning during the pandemic. Gov. Tim Walz’s requirement that most youth athletes wear a face mask to protect against the coronavirus will make it that much harder. In fact, the masks themselves present a potential health hazard for some students, based on a survey of Minnesota parents.

Youth sports participants were cleared to return to practice last week under Gov. Walz’s latest executive order allowing practices and games. But the results of an online survey of parents and participants by the group Let Them Play MN showed hundreds of youth experienced problems due to protective masks. The findings were broken down by WCCO-TV.

Most of these sports are requiring athletes to wear masks during game play and practices. Not all students and parents are too thrilled about this requirement. In a survey put out Jan.4-11 by Let Them Play MN, over 2,500 Minnesotans reported their child or they themselves experienced dizziness and shortness of breath while playing with a mask. The survey also found 14 kids collapsed and 11 needed emergency care.

Let Them Play MN has sued Gov. Walz in federal court to reverse the mask requirement. The group has also repeatedly asked the state government for the scientific data behind the mandate without success.

The comments left by many of those responding to the survey provide a greater sense of the widespread frustration on the part of many of Let Them Play MN’s 25,000 members across the state.

In the survey results, students, coaches and parents could leave anonymous comments. One student shared, “Very difficult to breath and I personally feel claustrophobic and have some panic breathing/shortness of breath.”

A Minnesota coach posted in the survey, “As a coach I see daily how much these kids are struggling … wearing a mask while doing a full-out run through or during competition [a time period of about 5 minutes] I feel it is extremely dangerous and the risks of wearing the masks outweigh the benefits.”

In the meantime, young athletes face few options but to go along to get along if they want to make the most of their limited opportunities to compete this year.

This is [Maple Grove basketball player Kylie] Baranick’s senior year, and she will do what’s needed to play her final season.

“I’m willing to do anything right now to play, so if we have to wear masks to play, we’re willing to do it,” she said.