Youth athletes report ER visits due to mask-wearing

One response indicated that a player needed a “life flight” to the hospital due to a “traumatic injury” while playing with a mask on.

Cropped version of Let Them Play survey graphic/letthemplaymn.org

A survey completed by student athletes and their parents revealed the harmful effects mask-wearing has had on high school sports players’ physical and mental health.

Seventy-four percent of students who responded reported experiencing at least one “clinically significant symptom” from wearing a mask while playing, including loss of consciousness, dizziness, and vomiting.

The informal survey was organized by Let Them Play MN, a grassroots organization of parents and kids who are fighting against Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota State High School League’s regulations surrounding shortened or eliminated sports seasons, spectator rules, and mask mandates.

2,270 responses were received for the survey regarding athletes’ experiences while wearing masks during practices and games.

Almost 80% of respondents said it was hard to breathe, and 52% said they experienced “increased or excessive fatigue.” A total of 48 players reported going to urgent care, and 18 players were taken to the ER, one by ambulance.

One response indicated that a player needed a “life flight” to the hospital due to a “traumatic injury” while playing with a mask on.

Fifty-six percent of participants reported visual impairment while wearing a mask, with 35% reporting the effects of reduced vision as “unsafe.” Fifty-nine players disclosed injuries due to “reduced peripheral vision.”

Mental health is also a concern for many parents and their athletes. Another 1,300 responses, or 57%, showed players’ mental health suffering due to sports shutdowns.

While 40% said they are “super excited to be back out playing,” 33% reported they have thought about dropping out of their sport because of the mask rules currently in place.

A section of the survey called “Next Level Impacts” provides information on students who have lost college athletic scholarships (177) and recruitment opportunities (298).

More than 300 parents reported spending over $250 on additional equipment or services due to the regulations. Purchasing new hockey helmets, traveling out of state to continue practices, paying clinic and hospital bills related to mask-induced injuries, and paying for streaming services for games are all examples of extra expenses parents have paid.

Additionally, when asked about the general effects of masks and extended shutdowns, 60% of respondents specified a lower level of performance overall because of these factors.

Ninety people living in states other than Minnesota responded to this survey, and their responses are included in the overall survey results. The survey was conducted from Jan. 20 to 26. Let Them Play’s first survey of youth athletes was released Jan. 13.