March 22, 2021
Washington state has mandated masks be worn during all practices and competitions for high school sports. It’s a rule many coaches and runners are unhappy with, saying it’s difficult to competitively run 5,000 meters while masked. They also worry it could be dangerous.
“I have two kids with asthma,” Junction City coach Shannon McAdams said. “Running a 5K is hard enough. Running with a mask on could be detrimental.”
Richards was part of a handful of coaches from across the state who petitioned Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority last month to try and get them to make cross country exempt from the mask mandate.
The appeal was denied.
“It’s tragic to watch,” Richards said. “It’s hard as a coach to send your kids out there. There’s been a lot of theorizing about the health risks between wearing a mask and not wearing one, and I can’t speak to those. I just know the looks on their faces. They’re running their guts out.”