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MSHS focused on student-athlete safety after mask mandate announced

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Marquette, Mich. (WJMN) – A mask mandate put in place last week by governor Gretchen Whitmer will require that fall sports team mask up while practicing and competing this Fall.

Marquette Athletic Director, Alex Tiseo, called it tough news but something he’s willing to work through.

“There is an exemption for both boys tennis and girls and boys cross country where those masks don’t need to be worn during practices and competitions as long as social distancing can take place. But where we do see the change is for volleyball. Awfully difficult to wear a mask during competition. Likewise, for boys soccer, and particularly football as well,” said Tiseo.

Football players will have the option of wearing a standard cloth mask while on the field or a customized full face shield that attaches to their helmet.

Marquette will equip their football team with face shields produced by Schutt. Players on the side-lines, along with coaches and essential personal will be required to wear a cloth mask during the game.

“It’s an un-tinted face shield. There’s not a whole lot of density to it. It comes in an upper insert as well as a lower. This is the lower portion here and the upper portion to go over the eyes. It gets mounted on the inside of the helmet both pieces for a full face covering there. That’s been deemed by the M.H.S.A.A and also falls in line with the governor’s executive order as a permissible face covering to keep our football student-athletes safe,” said Tiseo.

Retailers say their having trouble keeping up with the demand for the shields as we near the kick-off of the season.

“It’s certainly sky-rocketed, I’d say in the last, really month when practices have started and the discussion of what it’s going to look like this fall and it’s been great for us and we’re really happy to have been able to put a product on the field that helps the kids play,” said Dan Doerr, a business development manager for Schutt Sports in Michigan.

Many wonder what impact masks will have on student-athletes competing.

“Oxygen restriction for student-athletes is a huge concern with this face-covering mandate. So, it’s even been meeting with our team individually so that I can go over with them. Okay, these are the appropriate time where I’d like you to take off your mask during that practice or competition to get some breaths of fresh air and even kind of those sport-to-sport guidelines where it’s extending a set break in volleyball or if you’re not making a direct play on the ball in soccer, pull that mask down, get some fresh air, don’t restrict yourself of oxygen, don’t try to gut through it. We’re here to prevent the spread of COVID but at the same time, you know, I won’t let that mask mandate jeopardize any individual student-athletes health,” said Tiseo.

Local 3 has reached out to several medical professionals but they say due to little research about the pros and cons of wearing a mask while competing, it’s hard to say what’s best for the student-athletes. Adding, every patient/athlete is unique and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for what is best.

Tiseo says no matter what your take is on the mask mandate to please adhere to the regulations if you’re planning on coming to games later this season.

“As things continue to evolve and us allowing spectators into facilities we’re also fully trusting our parents and guest coming into our facilities to adhere to that mask mandate and also keeping in mind that it doesn’t matter how we feel individually about this pandemic or any one particular issue, we’re here to support our student-athletes. We’re here to cheer them on, allow them to compete, and allow them to compete safely,” said Tiseo.

Marquette, who was originally scheduled to play Gladstone for their season home opener, had to scramble to find a new opponent after the Braves forfeited. Marquette will now be hosting Menominee this Friday, September 15th. Kick-off is set for 6 pm ET.

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