MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On Thursday, student-athletes in Minnesota returned to the court and ice rink for their first games and scrimmages of the winter sports season.

Most of these sports are requiring athletes to wear masks during game play and practices. Not all students and parents are too thrilled about this requirement. In a survey put out Jan. 4 – 11 by Let Them Play MN, over 2,500 Minnesotans reported their child or they themselves experienced dizziness and shortness of breath while playing with a mask. The survey also found 14 kids collapsed and 11 needed emergency care.

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The Maple Grove High School Crimson boys hockey team has their first game Thursday night against Elk River. Josh Giuliani is a junior on Maple Grove’s team.

“Obviously the mask is a little problem, but if that gets us to play, that gets us to play,” Giuliani said. “It’s a lot harder to breathe, Some masks are better than others, but hopefully most of our team is used to it so we can go into today for our first game, hopefully not having it as a problem.”

In the survey results, students, coaches and parents could leave anonymous comments. One student shared, “Very difficult to breath and I personally feel claustrophobic and have some panic breathing/shortness of breath.”

(credit: CBS)

A Minnesota coach posted in the survey, “As a coach I see daily how much these kids are struggling … wearing a mask while doing a full-out run through or during competition [a time period of about 5 minutes] I feel it is extremely dangerous and the risks of wearing the masks outweigh the benefits.”

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Maple Grove basketball player Kylie Baranick has been training with her mask on to be ready for their first game of the season on Thursday against Totino-Grace High School.

“It’s been a big factor, but these past two weeks we’ve been practices, we’ve been conditioning with them on and it’s getting easier each day,” Baranick said.

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This is Baranick’s senior year, and she will do what’s needed to play her final season.

“I’m willing to do anything right now to play, so if we have to wear masks to play, we’re willing to do it,” she said.

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For now, all indoor high school and youth sports games can have limited spectators with each player allowed two tickets.

Marielle Mohs