That is the Question…..
This is a two part piece designed to answer the above question from two very different and very important perspectives. First is just the argument about the safety issues that are addressed by wearing a mask. Second, the potential impact that wearing a mask might have on the recruiting possibilities might on the player who wears one.
I’ve had the pleasure of being around the sport of fastpitch for a very long time. Over those many years I have seen new equipment come into the game and the defensive facemask is one of the most polarizing!
I have to admit that I used to be firmly on the no mask side of this discussion. On more than one occasion I argued the position that you cannot, or should not, defend weak players from the game and that, somehow, we were dumbing the game down by allowing players to use what I often thought of as a crutch. I also used to fall back on the old feminist/sexist argument that we would never ask a boy to wear a mask in a baseball game.
It’s amazing how a split second can change an opinion forever!
We were playing at Stetson University on a beautiful spring day when I lived through every coach’s nightmare. Morgan Sikes was pitching for us when a ball was lined right back up the middle. Morgan was the best fielding pitcher I ever coached so I always expected her to catch everything. The sound of the impact, and the silence that followed, will stay with me forever.
Morgan recovered from her devastating injuries and returned to the mound for her senior season. Wearing a facemask!
Looking back, I consider Morgan to be one of the toughest and most inspirational players I have ever known. Has her story changed me? Absolutely!
I will never look at a player wearing a mask as weak again. I don’t care how tough, or talented a player is, that ball just can’t be caught. Safety has to trump all other considerations!
Wear the Mask!! Please!!