LANSING, Mich. — Wednesday, parents, athletes and coaches will rally at the State Capitol in Lansing. They are opposing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders, 2020-176 and 2020-180, requiring athletes to wear a mask while playing sports.
The Facebook event for the rally claims the orders place young athletes in a dangerous situation. "We are concerned that this poses a serious and significant health and injury risk to our young athletes," the description reads.
Nearly 2,000 people have expressed interest in the Facebook event for the rally. It begins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon. The event is billed as a peaceful, family friendly event. Attendees will be expected to maintain social distancing and wear facial coverings unless medically unable.
Amanda Sloan, a West Michigan mom who organized the event, said parents and athletes have been logging some of their experiences playing different sports while wearing masks.
"We've seen concussions, we've seen children passing out, we've seen people literally physically being ill, while wearing these masks and putting that extra exertion on their bodies," said Sloan, "We've been told from the beginning that exercise is important and being outside is beneficial. Those are activities that, months ago, were encouraged without the use of masks. And now, I feel like we're backtracking."
Multiple speakers are expected to talk on the matter at the rally, including Senator Lana Theis (R)-Brighton, who penned an open letter to "Unmask our Children."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages mask wearing if possible for athletes. However, those engaged in high intensity activities may not be able to wear one if it causes difficulty breathing.
The CDC's recommendations include in part:
- Wear a mask if feasible, especially when it is difficult to stay less than 6 feet apart from other people or indoors, for example in close contact sports such as basketball.
- Lower intensity sports: Emphasize wearing masks and practicing social distancing for lower intensity sports.
- Higher intensity sports: People who are engaged in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a mask if it causes difficulty breathing.
- If unable to wear a mask, consider conducting the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain physical distance from others.
- In situations where individuals might raise their voices, such as shouting or chanting, we strongly encourage wearing masks.
- For youth athletes, parents, coaches, and sports administrators should decide if the kids need to wear a mask.
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