Mask off, mask on: student opinions on masks at football games


Dottie Young

The student section, who is decked out in their cowboy gear, lets out a roar of excitement to cheer for the football team at the White Station vs Collierville game on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. With this close proximity and eruption of movement comes the question of whether or not masks should be worn at games.

It’s Friday evening. That means it’s time to get ready for the weekly football game. Wallet? Check. Phone? Check. Face Mask? With the rise of cases in Tennessee, the debate of whether masks should be worn at games rages once again.

“It’s just for the safety of everyone else because what’s the point of wearing masks at school and social distancing if then you take them off for a football game, [when] you’re closer, and you’re sweaty and you’re yelling at each other,” Elaina Chen (11) said. “It’s just common sense.” 

Because there is a large majority of people choosing not to wear masks at games, students have to choose between missing out on valuable high school experiences and their own safety.

“[In] school we are required to wear masks, … but for some reason people assume that it’s different or they’ll somehow be safer when … they are at a football game or something, even though it’s arguably more jam-packed at a football game because you’re sitting in the student section,” Minnu Reddivari (12) said.  “[It] just feels weird that people somehow don’t seem to grasp that what is safe in one place is a safety measure in all places when it comes to stuff like viruses.” 

While some students say that masks are an inconvenience and ruin the mood of games, others have become more inventive in showing their support for the team.

“One thing that [students] did was they would stomp on the bleachers to make noise for the team and also I think the one against Central, they had a big speaker,” Samuel Shiberou (11) said. “There’s all sorts of other things you can do.”

After Governor Bill Lee signed an order allowing parents to opt their child out of wearing masks at school, students expressed their feelings about how it would affect their decision to wear one to a football game.

“We look up to our parents,” Chen said. “So if they say, ‘You don’t need to wear a mask, it’s fine,’ then you’re obviously going to listen, but I think people should definitely wear a mask. It should be up to the school and not just the parents … because the parents aren’t at school — they don’t know what’s going on. It’s the kids in school that can make up their minds.”

With strongly differing opinions on masking at games, the importance becomes an emphasis on safety: how many precautions are people willing to take?

“The best thing is to make sure [to] enforce mask rules,” Reddivari said. “Obviously we can’t force everyone to get vaccinated, but it would be great if everyone would get vaccinated. … Get people to wear masks, sanitize your hands — it’s all these general health rules that I feel like we really need to reiterate because obviously, not everyone follows them, but they’re the easiest way to keep people safe.”