MSHSL votes for mask-free youth spring sports, awaits MDH approval

The MSHSL’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee said youth athletes who are competing in outdoor sports do not need to wear masks.

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The Minnesota State High School League voted unanimously to not require student athletes to wear masks while competing in outdoor sports this spring.

A recommendation from MSHSL’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee said youth athletes who are competing in outdoor sports do not need to wear masks, and the MSHSL Board of Directors voted unanimously in favor of this position.

However, the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommended that in all instances in which athletes are not competing, masks must still be worn.

“In all outdoor sports, masks are required to be worn properly at all times, except during the times when a student athlete is actually competing,” a press release from the MSHSL states, citing the committee’s instruction.

The MSHSL’s statement will be forwarded to the Minnesota Department of Health, which must modify its mask mandate for youth sports before athletes will be permitted to go mask-free while competing outdoors.

“It is critical for our member schools and participants to recognize that the state requirements and our guidance to member schools has not changed,” League Executive Director Erich Martens said in a press release.

Martens said he appreciates the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s input and hopes to work with MDH to “modify their guidance” on mask-wearing for outdoor sports.

Sen. Michelle Benson said in a statement that MDH must follow the lead of the MSHSL.

“MDH’s youth sports decisions are not rooted in science,” she wrote. “I’ve repeatedly made my position clear to MDH.”

Benson encouraged residents to reach out to Gov. Tim Walz and urge him to lift the mask mandate on youth sports.

Several parents and doctors testified before a Senate committee earlier this year on the health risks posed by masked sports.