Pembroke Academy’s athletic director no doubt has the right to dismiss his track and field coach for refusing to follow official protocols regarding mask-wearing by spring track and field athletes. If competing schools are following the mask rules, a maskless Pembroke team might have an advantage. That puts the AD in a tough spot. But permit us a couple of observations.
Mask rules for sports seem to be all over the lot. Outdoor sports would appear to be safer from COVID-19 spread than those played indoors. Yet we don’t recall seeing masks being worn during the Final Four NCAA basketball games or by the Bruins hockey team or by professional golfers strolling green fairways a few paces ahead of their huffing and puffing caddies.
The way they have been playing, the Boston Red Sox probably should be wearing masks whenever they are out in pubic, for their own safety.
Brad Keyes, the Pembroke coach who was fired, notes that high school cross-country runners last fall were permitted to compete without masks under guidance from the New Hampshire’s Interscholastic Athletic Association. Even with spring track and field, the NHIAA stipulates that javelin throwers and shot putters, among others, may remove their masks before competing, due to “safety concerns.” Perhaps that’s for the safety of the fans in the stands?
Pembroke AD Fred Vezina declined to discuss his position, saying it was a “personnel decision.” That seems to us a clever dodging of the real issue, whereas Coach Keyes took the matter head on, saying the mask rules are idiotic and he wasn’t about to tell the kids on the team otherwise. If that meant losing his coaching spot, so be it.
You don’t have to agree with Coach Keyes’ position to admire him for taking a stand. He may have taught his team a valuable lesson.