One of the proposed mask types to be used by football players in Delaware

One of the proposed mask types to be used by football players in Delaware

The Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association took a stand on those looking to avoid the mandatory mask rule.

"No mask, no play, even with accommodations, unless the DIAA approved it as a special case," is the guidance described by Dr. Michael Axe, chair of SMAC.

That would mean an athlete would have to get approval from the DIAA Board of Directors, and could not just appear at a game with a doctor's note and be allowed to play without their mask.

When asked if the rules would create a violation of the Americans for Disabilities Act, that could conceivably find the rule harmful those with asthma and other cardio-respiratory conditions, Axe said they don't, in most cases.

"It's not a violation of the ADA, if they go through the ADA coordinator and the board says it's okay to do that. The problem is--the Department of Public Health does not allow you to play without a mask. So, they gave accommodations that you can play for a shorter period of time and listed five things. That still requires you to wear a mask, you just can't play as much."

Axe emphasized the mask rule is not one that DIAA and SMAC is forcing on the state, rather the state is forcing on them.

"The Department of Public Health wants to make the onus on the SMAC Committee, when it's not our problem, because they mandated the masks, not us."

Dr. Bradley Bley brought up an issue last week at some practices where heavy rain forced teams to cancel practice, or deal with masks that got wet, making it harder to breathe.

"I can't imagine anything worse than trying to play with a wet mask in a rainstorm. That is going to be a nemesis for all of the programs. We're going to have to have a bunch of unique-color masks for all of them to switch into if necessary," Dr. Axe said, before suggesting three masks might be needed for bad weather games.  

Mask use is currently being required in all medium-and-high-risk sports in Delaware, which includes all but cross country, swimming, and golf at the moment. DIAA is included medium-risk sports to avoid having to change the rules of sports to avoid contact.

SMAC also looked at mouthpieces, and what happens if they become dislodged during play.

"If someone has a mouthpiece issue, so their mouthpiece falls out and they put it back in the mouth, they're declared contaminated, and have to use hand sanitizer to be eligible to return for the next play."

SMAC will meet again next week before the start of fall competition on October 19. They plan to take one last look at mask rules, and any other last-minute health concerns before games begin.

Dr. Axe said he is also working on the wrestling return-to-play model and expects to make that presentation in two weeks.