Parents of hockey players, basketball players, and dancers have been sharing their children’s experiences with their first day of winter sports practice on Jan. 4.
On Dec. 28, the Minnesota Department of Health released a guidance for youth sports, requiring masks at all times for players, with very few exceptions.
A Facebook group with over 25,000 members called Let Them Play MN, which is managed by a nonprofit organization of the same name, has become overwhelmed with stories of high school students’ negative and unhealthy experiences while wearing masks during practices.
Dozens of comments and posts point to intense headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and, in the worst cases, passing out during or after practice.
One Facebook post says, “My child, who was skating and doing drills yesterday on our ice just fine, at practice tonight, felt like she couldn’t breathe, lightheaded, dizzy, nauseous and puked everywhere. If this is the rest of the season, why not just cancel it and call it a day?”
Responding to a question on Twitter, Let Them Play MN tweeted Tuesday that it has heard of athletes passing out while wearing masks: “We can confirm we have heard of players collapsing yesterday. However, to respect privacy of the families, we will not provide details.”
We can confirm we have heard of players collapsing yesterday. However, to respect privacy of the families, we will not provide details. That should be the sole discretion of the families who experienced this crisis.
— LetThemPlayMN (@LetThemPlayMN) January 5, 2021
In the Facebook group, another parent shared that her daughter had “the worst migraine she’s ever had” the morning after attending a four-hour dance practice and experiencing asthma attacks throughout the practice.
A hockey parent said that her daughter’s mask became saturated before even starting practice, due to “an ice rink’s cold air and a person’s warm breath.”
“MDH clearly states if the activity causes mask saturation, (the masks) should not be worn,” said the parent.
The Hockey Equipment Certification Council has “approved the CCM Game on Mask and the Bauer Concept 3 Face Shield and Splash Guard combination,” which appears to be a mask attached to the inside of a helmet, worn under a plastic shield attached to the outside of the helmet.
A senior basketball player posted that her mask made her feel “trapped,” which she has never felt before. She wrote, “Usually the first day is hard because we’re out of shape, but it’s never felt like I was trapped. These masks are not safe to play in. It was hard to focus because it was hard to catch my breath. I was exhausted … I’d like to see (Gov. Walz) wear a mask and run up and down a court.”
Another mother of a dancer said her daughter started having chest pains the day after her first practice, and doctors told her one reason could be that she was “working so hard to breathe through her mask.”
Parents have already, after one practice, begun to pull their children from sports. One parent’s reasoning for taking her senior daughter out of basketball was because she “has always had challenges with running, but with the mask on, she was unable to get enough oxygen.”
There are now hundreds of comments under a post by Eric Perkins from KARE 11, who asked for feedback from students and parents on how the first day of practice went. One commenter claimed the masks are a “huge deal,” and several stated their children came back from practices vomiting and extremely dizzy and nauseous. Another parent said her hockey player son “felt lightheaded and like he was being stabbed in the lungs” after skating hard at practice.
Several commenters under Perkins’ post also voiced their worries that their children are not drinking enough water during hockey practice, because they came back with full water bottles, saying it was too difficult to remove the mask and put it back on during water breaks.
Another member of the Facebook group posted about her communication with the Mayo Clinic. She said Minnesota is experiencing “unsettling things” right now.
Let Them Play MN previously filed a federal lawsuit against Walz, which they lost and filed an emergency appeal to in response.