Parents and students protest against mask mandates in youth sports


Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — Recent executive orders issued by Governor Gretchen Whitmer requiring masks for student-athletes are sparking controversy amongst some parents, who say the orders could be dangerous for their children.

Nearly 100 protesters gathered at the Capitol Wednesday, to share their concerns.

“I believe that we need to stand up for our freedoms and be able to play sports, if we choose, without a mask and if you don’t feel safe then don’t play,” Soccer Player and Parent Joi Pokerwinski said.

Pokerwinski has three daughters. Two of them play soccer and suffer from asthma.

“Not wearing a mask it’s already hard enough to breathe. I have an inhaler which helps, but if I had a mask I’d probably pass out on the field,” Pokerwinski’s daughter Peyton said.

Her other daughter, McKenna said she feels perfectly safe playing the sport without a mask.

Pokerwinski said her entire family had COVID-19 and recovered. Although she feels for the people who’ve died, she said wearing a mask should be a choice, not a requirement.

“There are close friends of mine who have lost loved ones and I am sad for them and for that and I am not trying to be rude or unkind or keep people safe, but again we live in America, we have freedoms,” she said.

During the rally, protesters chanted ‘Our children, our choice’. Although it can be challenging for players, especially younger ones, the CDC recommends the use of masks for athletes when physical distancing is difficult.

The Pokerwinski family said they don’t have a problem with other people wearing masks, but worry about what other risks could come as a result.

“Along with our breathing, when you have, you have vision obviously and so it impedes your lower vision and when we play soccer you need to have that vision to be able to see down. When you have a mask down here you have to be like this, and you are more likely to get hit in the head and cause a concussion,” Pokerwinski said.

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