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athletic support by eli cranor Athletic Support: Removal of mask requirement could cost us games
April 11, 2021

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Please use the “Contact” page at to send in questions for “Athletic Support.”

Dear Athletic Support: Recently, my home state did away with the mask mandate. I was shocked when the local school board followed suit by voting to no longer require students to wear masks. My son’s a senior high baseball player. I’m not sure how the removal of masks will impact his final season, or any of the other school-sanctioned athletic events, but I’d sure hate for my son to lose another year due to COVID. I understand people’s hang-ups with masks. I don’t particularly like wearing a mask myself. But I would’ve worn one for my son, if that’s what it took for him to get his senior season. With everyone returning from Spring Break trips and Easter gatherings, I feel like we could definitely see a spike in cases again. Maybe there’s nothing to worry about. Maybe my son will get to play a normal season, but I can’t help but feel like we’ve been put at a competitive disadvantage. Our athletes will be much more susceptible to the virus compared to schools that still enforce masks. Maybe everything will be fine. But if this thing comes back to bite us, and my boy loses out on his senior season (over something that was completely avoidable), I will not be happy. What do you think? Could the removal of the masks hurt a team’s chances as the school year comes to a close?

— Disappointed Dad

Dear Disappointed: As a country, we’re not out of the COVID woods just yet. Things are better. Sure. But COVID isn’t gone by a long stretch.

If the virus got into your son’s school and started making its way through the student body then, yes, I think your son’s team has a greater chance of infection compared to a school where students are still required to wear masks.

There’s an old coaching idiom that goes something like: “It’s always easier to take away than to add.” I used to employ this thought process when determining how many wind sprints my team would run at the end of practices. I always started with the highest number possible in the summer, then worked my way back down as the season went along.

The reason?

I knew once I dropped the number, it would be twice as hard to go back up again. The same is true in this situation.

With the end of school fast approaching, it would’ve been easy to ride the masks out until summer. The kids were already accustomed to them. Masks were part of everyone’s daily routine. So why shake things up with less than a couple months to go?

I can’t answer that question. But I will say this: If things do turn south and cases start to rise — which in turn means games will be forfeited — it won’t be easy to ask students to wear masks again.

It’ll already be too late.

Final thought: If I were a coach, and my season was on the line, I’d consider urging my players to still wear masks at school. Maybe that’s something your son’s coach would consider?

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Kids have changed, haven’t they?
Esports and disc golf bigger than football?
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Coach makes political post
7th grade girls basketball woes
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Outside of athletics, kids’ brains are also at risk. Who knows what sort of impact virtual learning will have on their cognition and critical thinking skills. In this regard, I offer one simple tool — a good book! And luckily, I know just the book for kids struggling with the shift to virtual learning:


books make brainz taste badOkay, you caught me… I’m the author of this book. It was published last week and awarded a #1 New Release ranking on Amazon. BMBTB deals directly with the same topic covered in this column, except in a much more lighthearted, kid-friendly way (zombie teachers and brain-munching screens!)

If you end up purchasing this book for your children or grandchildren, I only have one final suggestion — ask them to read it while standing up!

Eli Cranor's new book Books Make Brainz Taste Bad has just been released. ZOMBIES HATE BOOKS! Especially the zombie teachers at Haven Middle School. That's why they're using VR headsets to fry kids' brainz. Luckily, Dash Storey knows how to save his classmates from the zombie teachers—BOOKS! They make brainz taste bad!

"Eli Cranor has an almost unbeatable advantage. He can remember how it felt to think like a twelve-year-old and he can see the very same events like the adult he is. Don't try to resist this book!"
- Jack Butler, Pulitzer-Prize nominated author


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