Should Facemasks Be Mandatory?

Should facemasks be mandatory for softball players?

We asked this question on our page today, and overwhelmingly the answer was YES!

In the past years, as the sport of fastpitch softball has evolved, we are seeing more and more facemasks on the field. Today, many of the younger players are growing up with the mask with many rec leagues making them mandatory issue for pitchers. And slowly but surely, we are seeing some college players (many AFTER taking a ball to the face) wearing the mask.

Say what you want to say about face-masks, the reality is that they are useful and can save a player from extensive injury and even death. There is no mistake about it.

With bats and balls being continuously improved to increase speed and ‘hotness’ and the girls playing so closely to the batter, the risk of injury – REGARDLESS OF HOW WELL A KID CAN PLAY BALL, REGARDLESS OF HOW QUICK HER HANDS ARE, REGARDLESS OF HOW MANY TIMES SHE HAS CAUGHT THE SHOT, and REGARDLESS of how WELL TRAINED SHE IS, remains high, and facemasks can help prevent these injuries.

Our goal with Facemask February Awareness, is not to launch an all out rule change in every fastpitch organization that insists on making/forcing kids wear a facemask.

But rather to stifle the thoughts that somehow a girl wearing a mask is weak, or untrained, or not a good ball player. Because that is just not true. That is false. That is absurd. That is just the sort of egocentric attitude that gets a girl hurt.

A facemask or not a facemask, is not an indicator of talent or skill. It’s simply an extension of the player wearing it. Our goal is to quiet those that think girls wear masks because they are sissies, and to hush the whispers that if girls have to wear masks boys should too. (Totally different distances, different game, different speeds)

Sure. Old school coaches are going to say that taking a ball to the chin, or catching a bad hop in the head, or turning your glove the wrong way and diverting a ball to your face are just part of the learning curve. In fact, in the old days – before we wore bike helmets, and bubble wrapped our kids, these mishaps were used to teach our kids how to play properly. Trust me, after one bad hop to the chin a player sort of learns how important it is to keep their bottom down and their eyes on the ball in order to field cleanly.

Our goal in showing the graphic images of girls who have been hit and sustained injury to their face and teeth and eyes and head, are simply to make people aware of the inherent danger of this game.

Even so, we do not feel that facemasks should be made mandatory/forced. Gasp, right? 

First, realize that we by all means feel strongly that pitchers and the corners should have on a facemask at all times.  And we also have witnessed some pretty traumatic incidences of kids being hit in the face and taken away by ambulance because they were not wearing a mask. As parents of pitcher ourselves, they never took the infield without a mask. Never.That was our rule. It didnt matter what a recruiter, or a coach or what anyone said. They wore a mask.

But we strongly believe that the decision to wear (or not) a mask truly needs to be left up to the parents and player.

We believe that making a facemask mandatory will lead to more regulatory motions in fastpitch, and if we start dictating every aspect of the game, then we are in for some trouble.

This will have a negative trickle down affect on everything, and likely become an aspect of insurance policies leaving coaches in a precarious position. And it will start bordering on Title 9 issues, where people against the mask will feel discriminated against because baseball players are not forced to wear them.

Coaches need to be free to coach, not babysit and make parenting decisions. We already live in a litigious society that is sue happy, and the last thing we need are little league coaches being responsible for what really are parenting decisions. PARENTING DECISIONS!

If organizations start mandating the mask, what is next? Believe you me, we have seen for ourselves a ridiculous and total uproar in one community because a (yes ONE COACH) coach thought white pants were too risque, because he could see what color a girls underwear are, and white pants were then completely banned. The ban holds still to this day.

We believe and hope that parents today realize the inherent danger of the game, and use their own commonsense based on their daughters skill level and position to decide whether or not she should be wearing a facemask.

And we also hope that players will quit adopting the dated belief that somehow perceived toughness comes in the form of not wearing a mask, and leaving them open for a catastrophic injury.

We also believe that as the game evolves and the younger generation comes up, facemasks will become more and more mainstream than they are now. They are fast becoming a mainstay on the fields, and every year more and more college players are wearing them as well.

But we genuinely believe that the issue of wearing a facemask should not become something that is policed.

Listen, as much as we hate to say it – for those that believe a good glove and proper technique will save their player, because shes been trained so well – all they need to see is one ball to the face to change their mind. We think the attitude that training somehow trumps chance is one of sheer ignorance, and there really is no arguing with it. All we can do, you can do – is sit back and pray that their child is never the victim of blind spot caused by the sun.

Wear the mask. Don’t wear the mask. The choice, for now, remains yours. It’s a choice as it should be, however it’s also a choice that gambles with the long term health of your player. 

 

 

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