Rocky Hulne: Good and bad news of a season

Published 6:50 am Wednesday, December 30, 2020

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Sports are returning soon, but prepare to mask up.

There is good news and bad news for Minnesota prep teams hoping to compete this winter.

The good news is that competitions will begin on Jan. 14, but the bad news is that participants in basketball, and hockey will be required to wear masks.

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Athletes in gymnastics, cheerleading, dance, wrestling and swimming and diving will not be required to wear masks during competition where mask usage may cause safety concerns.

Wearing  masks while competing is far from ideal, but at least for now, it is the only way kids will be able to get out and compete. The trial of whether or not athletes can compete in masks has already begun just east of us in Wisconsin and some teams are wearing them in Iowa, although it is not required.

The Lyle-Pacelli and Faribault Bethlehem Academy volleyball teams also wore them during competitions this past fall.

For some perspective on how sports will look with masked athletes, I gave a call to my younger brother Christopher Hulne, who is a middle school basketball coach at Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

While he admitted to receiving a few eye rolls when telling kids to pull their masks up, he didn’t think that safety was a major concern.

“I don’t think it really bothered them that much in practice. We had kids running sprints in the gym and nobody said anything about it,” Christopher said.

He said his team offered players to take breaks outside without their masks on if they felt the need to catch their breath and the team also had to be wary of players who may have asthma or other health conditions.

Nobody is excited about sports with masks, but if it’s necessary to get the season started, it’s something we’ll have to deal with. It’s certainly better than having no games at all.