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Some college athletes struggle under their masks

A basketball and mask laying on the gym floor. Photo by Melissa Wright

For some college athletes, mask mandates have made it way too hard to breathe. 

It is the most absurd thing ever to wear masks during games and practices or any other athletic event,” said  Cinque Stephens, an NYU basketball point guard. “As athletes we’re required to be vaccinated yet we have to show a “Vax Pass” to get into facilities.”

The CDC, highly recommends for vaccinated people to continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings. They also suggest that universal indoor mask wearing in a school setting, including visitors, is highly effective. 

NYU’s basketball season was canceled last year and this year they are required to wear masks at all times while participating in any activity in the Palladium, their campus training facility.

“From the second you walk in until you leave your mask is forbidden to drop below your nose,” said Stephens.  

Stephens said his concerns stem from watching  his teammate almost pass out while working out because they can’t breath with masks on. The school is essentially forcing you to get vaccinated which he believes  is a violation of freedom of choice.

While the NYU tennis team is not required to wear a mask while practicing on the court indoors, they must immediately put a mask on upon exiting the court. Teammates must wear  a mask in the van when heading to practice at their Randall Island facility.

“It is too hard to wear a mask while you play, too hard to get oxygen and way easier to overheat,”said Lucy Avant,  an NYU tennis player.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is completely safe to wear a mask while exercising and their research showed that your heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen level and time of exhaustion are not outstandingly affected during physical activity. 

Guard/ forward from Wagner College, Kate Tokuhara is ready for her first season back since with fans and spectators. Photo by Melissa Wright

At Wagner University in Staten Island, vaccines are required, masks are required in the weight and training room,  but not during practice on the court. 

“We should not have to wear a mask during games and practices because we are already a contact sport so I feel like a mask won’t make much of a difference,” said Kate Tokuhara, a guard on their basketball team. ”Also, it is very difficult to run with a mask on.”

Jasmine Matthews, a forward on the NYU women’s basketball team said that wearing a mask is tough, but bearable. 

“Of course they are hard to breathe out of especially when your heart rate starts going and you’re doing a lot of activity,” she said.  “But I think a lot of us have gotten used to them.” 

 Matthews said she is excited about returning to the court for the first time since the pandemic struck in March 2020 and she will wear her mask with pride.