NOVAK: You can’t have your cake and eat it too

Published 2:11 pm Thursday, September 24, 2020

Do not get me wrong, I am glad sports has returned.

But I have to admit, some people are starting to get on my nerves. That is because they want it all. They want to have sports, but they do not want to do the things necessary to keep them. They want games, but they complain because not everyone can get into watch those games.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too, people. That is just a fact of life and a fact in the world we live in right now.

So, stop your complaining. Be glad that high school kids in the state of Michigan are being allowed to participate in fall sports. Be happy for the family members who get to watch their kids compete when it looked as if that might not happen in 2020.

I have been hearing from various people about the complaints directed at our high schools because they see kids not wearing their masks during practice or during games. I wondered how long it would take before something would be said, especially about soccer, where I have seen less than 10 players wearing them during matches so far.

I even mused to someone that I wonder if the Michigan High School Athletic Association would pull the plug after seeing all the photos of soccer players in the media not wearing masks like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has required. So far, I have heard nothing like that coming down from East Lansing.

Wednesday afternoon, I looked at the internet to see if any more schools were having issues and canceling games like Portage Central had to do and Detroit Country Day, which was supposed to play Edwardsburg in football this week.

Instead, I ran across an article about a protest in Lansing about wearing masks in soccer and how tough it is to breathe. I believe part of this protest is because a Grand Rapids middle school soccer player who has asthma is having a hard time playing the sport.

While I can sympathize with her and her family, I have a hard time backing the protest, which has also generated 77,000 signatures on a petition to eliminate the mask mandate, because if we all want to have sports in 2020, we are going to have to do some things that nobody is going to like or agree with.

Of course, there is the alternative of stopping sports, moving them to the spring and antagonizing a lot more people. I am not in favor of that alternative either. Some medical professionals, a pastor and a state senator from Brighton were among the speakers at this protest. They want Whitmer to do away with the masks.

This group also cited a lack of evidence that wearing a mask actually protects athletes during competition. That evidence is lacking because we have only played sports a couple of weeks for the low-risk ones and one to two weeks for the moderate to high-risk ones. Just taking off the masks and see what happens is not the best idea I have heard during the pandemic.

Of course, the science on this varies. The state senator from Brighton, Lana Theis, says there are higher risks to students than COVID. I am sure there are, but wearing a mask during an athletic competition is not one of them.

On the other side of the debate, Matt Axtman, an orthopedic sports medicine doctor from Spectrum Health in West Michigan, told MLive that studies how that masks do not reduce performance or have any major functional limitations. I know I am going to end up on the wrong side of this debate with many people, but I am going to trust the doctor of the politician on this one.

Again, I feel bad for those who are having issues playing sports with a mask. But if we want to have fall sports in 2020, we need to see this through and then find out where we stand come the winter sports season. I am hoping by doing the right thing now, we can all enjoy going to and watching sporting events beginning in December.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at