I️ attended my first NFCA convention this past week and there were many topics that seemingly continued to come up. The one that struck a nerve with me was the face mask debate. It’s a topic that people feel strongly on both sides of and that’s perfectly fine, but I️ wanted to share my thoughts.
I️ began wearing a face mask my junior year in college. I️ had never been hit in the face- nor had I️ had many close encounters. BUT my main motivation was that IF I️ were to get hit in the face, it could put me on the bench for weeks – resulting in missing up to 12 games. My collegiate career was closer to it’s end and the last thing I️ wanted was to miss out on any opportunity to take the mound. More importantly, a 12 game span can change the entire complexion of your teams season. Why wouldn’t I️ take a precaution that could save myself from potentially hurting my team in the long run? Personally, that was enough motivation to put on the mask.
Some athletes have medical reasons for wearing one. I️ had a teammate who had a tumor in her jaw- resulting in her needing fake teeth once it was removed. She went through so much during that time that she was not going to risk shattering her fake teeth that she was very grateful for.
Some athletes have prior concussion issues or have broke their nose in the past. Again- why not take precautions to save yourself from going through those injuries again.
Some athletes wear it because they feel more comfortable staying down on the ball. As a pitcher, I️ would MUCH rather have a teammate with a .900 fielding percentage wearing a face mask than a teammate with a .750 fielding percentage without a mask because they pull their heads on the hot shots. Whatever gets the job done should be the focus. As for the debate of young athletes wearing masks when they do any and everything…
Do I️ think they can learn to play catch without a mask on? Yes.. but if it keeps even one little girl from getting hit in the face at age 6 and quitting this amazing game because of it- then it’s worth it. As they get more comfortable I truly believe the mask will come off for more and more skills (if they want!).
Do I️ believe it should be a players choice? Yes. But I️ don’t think they should feel like any less of a softball player because they do so.
I️ am no less..
•of a softball player because I️ wear a mask.
•of an All-American because I️ wear a mask.
•of a D2 Player of the Year because I️ wear a mask.
•of a National Champion because I️ wear a mask.
•of a Professional Athlete because I wear a mask.
“Let them say what they want, just keep doing you.”