Basketball players wearing masks

These two girls high-school basketball players from Yorktown and Madison have their masks properly in place. (Photo by Deb Kolt)

By now, those following local high-school basketball games are accustomed to seeing the players wear masks during competition. That was one of the COVD-19 protocols adopted by the Virginia High School League and area school administrators in order to start the season.

Anyone watching also has seen that trying to keep those masks in the proper place – covering the mouth and nose – during the fast-paced action is almost an impossibility.

When games begin, or play resumes after any break in action, masks are worn correctly. But that doesn’t last very long. 

As soon as the running, cutting, moving, bumping, jumping and diving on the floor commences, the masks naturally slip out of place, usually settling on the players’ chins. At times, masks can get tangled in another player’s hand or fingers, causing masks to tear or break.

The players are constantly adjusting and fiddling with their masks, as coaches can be heard telling them “pull your masks up.” Players admit to sometimes quickly pulling the mask off their nose and mouth to get an unobstructed breath of air.

“It’s really frustrating and annoying,” one player said. “The masks won’t stay in place no matter how tight. So how much good could they really be doing?”

Players have tried different types of masks – some loose and some tight. What they find is neither matters. Unless masks are attached with some kind of Krazy or Gorilla glue, they won’t remain in place.

Protocols also have all coaches wearing masks. They face similar challenges. As much as basketball coaches talk and move and jump about trying to direct their players during the actions, their masks sometimes slip to their chins, as well.

Keeping the masks in place has become another game to watch within the game.

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