Fort Atkinson Sports Take on a New Obstacle

Playing in a Mask


Student athletes took on a new challenge in order to continue their seasons. Playing while in a mask.

This year has brought a plentiful amount of funky rules to the lives of athletes in order to ensure their safety. One that doesn’t fail to stand out is the famously dreaded, playing in a mask. If winter sports weren’t already hard enough, they just got a whole lot harder. Players from a diverse range of sports give insight on their experience with the mask rule so far, and how it has personally affected their season.


FAHS Girls’ Basketball Team keeps spirits high in a season like no other.

Athletes are often described using adjectives such as tough, in shape, labor bearing, and much more. They are people who can overcome many challenges, and face heavy amounts of exercise. You would think that these are just the type of people that would be able to take on the hardships that wearing a mask may bring. However, when asked about it, many athletes thought it was something that mildly affected their performance. “It has affected my conditioning and breathing when wrestling at practice and duals,” says sophomore, Aiden Worden, a varsity athlete for Fort Atkinson wrestling. Senior, Ryan Burke, a varsity boys basketball athlete agrees with Aiden, “It hasn’t been too bad, at first I really dreaded it, and it was very hard to breathe.” The athletes had some negative feelings and reactions to the required protocol in the beginning, but their feelings quickly change as they realize that if wearing a mask means they can still do what they love, they will take on the challenge with open arms. 

Winter athletes quickly adapted to the many altercations that came with their seasons. A mask was one of the hardest things that would modify how they would excel as athletes. It labors a lot of their ability to get air in quickly; one of the most crucial things athletes must do. But, Burke and Worden speak briefly about how they were able to overcome something so strenuous. “A clear advantage that playing in a mask gives is the fact that it really improves your conditioning. As my conditioning got better it just became easier to play with a mask.” Says Burke. Worden says something along these lines as well, “ I am able to breathe much better, my conditioning is better, and I feel much stronger.” It seems these athletes have been moving along quite well with something that seemed so straining at first. Is there a secret to the mask? 

With the mandate of masks in many places in the U.S, many masks have been released to the public in high diversity. Worden and Burke share some of their secrets to the different kinds of masks. “I typically go for thin material masks because I am able to breathe better when wearing them in matches. Med masks are a little thinner material and I wear them a lot.” Says Worden. Burke has more opinions on types of masks to shoot for, “The Under Armour Sports mask is a great mask for sports events. It doesn’t get wet like a blue medical mask or other cloth masks where it feels like you are suffocating in wet cloth.” Future athletes and students preparing for the upcoming sports season, or just walking around and about could take these suggestions and opinions into consideration for the best mask experience. 

Athletes participating in winter sports have faced countless challenges, yet they are clearly making the best with what they are given. It shows just the kind of people these athletes truly are. Even though players in boys basketball and wrestling have missed weeks of their season due to COVID-related issues, they walk with their heads held high, doing whatever they need to continue doing what they love. They will finish out the rest of their seasons ending in just a short couple of weeks!