New Hampshire Track Coach Fired for Not Enforcing Mask Mandate

The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) recently released its guidelines for the spring track and field season, and officials recommended that all student-athletes wear masks during competition. While the NHIAA recommended this policy for its athletes, it was not mandatory, and officials left the final decision to individual school boards and athletic directors. At Pembroke Academy, the athletic director chose to enforce masks during all competition (practices and meets).

Brad Keyes, the track and field coach at Pembroke disagreed with his boss. In fact, he was so upset that he sent the AD an open letter. Here are some of his words: “I’ll come straight to the point.  I will not put kids on the track and tell them to run any races while wearing masks. This recommendation is not backed up by science”… This is not about protecting the athletes, or even their families. I will not stand up in front of the kids and lie to them and tell them that these masks are doing anything worthwhile out in an open field with wind blowing and the sun shining.” Keyes ended his letter with, “Fire me if you must.”

Within 24 hours, Keyes was fired. There were other area track coaches who agree with Coach Keyes. Stan Lyford, another local track coach, said “Brad Keyes is not alone on the mask issue. Everyone I talk to thinks that wearing masks while running is a bad idea.” However, these track coaches decided to follow the mask policies of their AD.

Joe’s Perspective: I have consistently said that children with a 99.98% survival rate (check the CDC website) should not be wearing masks in athletics. I think masks should be voluntary. I don’t think it is necessary health-wise and I think it is dangerous to wear masks when you are exerting yourself. As a former track and cross country runner in high school and college, I can tell you that oxygen flow is pretty important. I ran 1:59.1 in the half mile several times, but I could not run 1:59.0. The reason was not tired legs. It was due to the amount of oxygen my body could pump through my blood. I guarantee that a mask does not help this process.  So, I support Coach Keyes in his stance on this issue. I hope I would have the conviction to tell my AD that I could not enforce his policy and offer my resignation.

As an aside, the New Hampshire governor dropped their mask mandate this week, 10 days after Keyes was fired.

Your Turn: If you were responsible for making the mask policy for the athletes in your state, what would be your policy? Be specific. Would you make it different for indoor and outdoor sports, contact vs. non-contact…

Comments 30

  1. i think in sports there should not be athletes force to wear them, especially if they have asthma and stuff like that. But also have them keep them next to them, so in any case they can put it back on when talking to someone.

  2. If you were playing an indoor sport then I would say that you have to wear your mask when on the bench and when your playing you can either keep it on or take it off

  3. i would say that you don’t have to wear your mask on while playing, it would be a choice for you, but definitely while on the bench not playing, same for out door sports.

  4. I think that player should not have to wear masks while playing in the game but while indoors people on the bench should wear masks. But not outdoors.

  5. I would say playing with a mask on us up to the athlete and what makes them comfortable but when they’re on the bench or come close to others to talk they would need to put their mask on

  6. I believe that the players who are out on the field or on the corner or whatever The sport is I believe that they should be allowed to have their mask off just for what they’re doing out for play but when they’re on the bench or sidelines or whatever it is they should have their mask of course.

  7. I like what my coach does for cross country. If your not working out, then put a mask on, if your running, take the mask off.

  8. My policy for wearing masks would be if your doing a drill you can have it off but when we all hussle in together, I’de say have it on because we’re all so close to each other and breathing heavily.

  9. My policy for indoor sports would be that if you are coming as a parent/student/teacher/etc , you must have a mask on. As a player for indoor sports, If they are not on the court playing then you must have a mask on, if you are in the court playing then it is optional if you want to have a mask on. For outdoor sports, the same policy would remain for the parents and the same for players.

  10. When playing sports I dont think you need to be wearing them while playing but when you are not playing, yes wear them.

  11. I think athletes should not wear mask because some athletes have health conditions and it hard to breathe when your playing.

  12. I would say while you are playing and runner you don’t need one, but while you are in the bench or watching them I would say you need one.

  13. I would say that while you are running or competing that athletes should not be required to wear masks but while students are inactive, a mask should be worn.

  14. I don’t think you should have to wear them while your on the court , but when you’re off , keep it on!

  15. I think when you’re playing indoor you should wear a mask when you’re on the bench but when you’re playing you should not have one on. That goes the same for outdoor

  16. My policy would be that if you’re not the player on playing, please keep the mask on. So that way the whole COVID could get away much faster.

  17. For sports that are indoors I think that if you are on the bench you should be wearing your mask and following mask protocol, but if you’re on the court or floor playing you shouldn’t have to wear a mask.

  18. I think players don’t have to wear masks while they play but when off the court yes so at least we can prevent Covid by a little.

  19. If you are playing you don’t have to wear a mask but if you are on the bench try to have your mask on if you feel like it is necessary but other than that you don’t have to have it on if it is an outdoor activity. If you are inside on the bench then is is necessary to wear your mask on the bench

  20. Honesty I don’t think mask are necessary outside I would say you should be made to wear one when your in close proximity to someone on the bus or sitting down next someone anywhere.

  21. Honesty I don’t think mask are necessary outside I would say you should be made to wear one when your in close proximity to someone on the bus or sitting down next someone anywhere.

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