Masks in Athletics as Delta Variant Surges

Hayden Audette, contributor

Photo of gym entrance in Si Melby Hall, taken by Dom Ingram.

COVID-19 has affected just about everything within our daily lives, and the sports world is no exception. Athletes at all levels have had to completely change the way they participate in their sports. In order to participate safely in athletics, Augsburg has reinstated many of its COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming athletic seasons. 

One challenge faced by Auggie athletes has to do with the on-campus mask mandate that is currently in place. Presently, masks are required on campus for all students and faculty regardless of vaccination status. 

Augsburg’s mask policy has changed considerably over the past few months. In July of this year, Augsburg briefly lifted its mask mandate before instituting it again before the start of the fall semester. 

According to the protocol in place, Augsburg students who participate in athletics are required to wear masks during practice. This mandate extends to when an athlete’s sport is not in season. During their respective season, athletes do not have to be masked as they play. 

This has led to a number of difficulties for Auggie Athletes. For example, the athletes have to wear masks while doing physically demanding things such as running and lifting weights. One Augsburg athlete who has asked to remain anonymous, offered their thoughts in an interview with the Echo on wearing a mask while participating in their sport, “Obviously we want to look out for others by wearing a mask, but I think sometimes people don’t understand how difficult working out and playing in a mask is. Putting 300 pounds on your back and squatting with a mask on is frustrating, especially when you know you are vaccinated.” 

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge nationwide because of the Delta variant of the virus, the task of participating as fully as possible in their sports while also making sure to protect themselves and others around them by complying with the school’s mask policy will continue to be a challenge for athletes. According to the New York Times’ COVID-19 data, there have been over 2 thousand cases per day in the last week in the state of Minnesota alone, and over 100,000 per day across the country. 

With the current number of daily cases, it’s easy to see why a mask mandate is necessary at Augsburg. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s always easy for students to comply. As things change with the pandemic, Augsburg may decide to once again lift their mask mandate. Until that happens, this obstacle faced by the athletes will persist.