PEMBROKE, N.H. (WHDH) - Pembroke Academy’s track and field coach says he was fired for refusing to require his athletes to wear a mask while competing.
It’s recommended all outdoor track and field athletes wear a face-covering during competition but Brad Keyes said when he learned his school would enforce those guidelines, he protested online by writing an article titled: “Fire me if you must.”
“There’s no rationale to it, there’s no consistency to it and I felt like I would be lying to the kids in telling them that it makes any sense,” he said.
When asked why he did not just quit in protest, Keyes said because he wanted to call attention to the issue.
“Nobody would’ve heard about it. They would’ve said thank you and I would’ve walked away,” he said. “I titled it that way because I assumed they would fire me. And I was hoping I would catch some attention and maybe get the word out and maybe get some other people to speak up.”
Keyes said he is not alone in feeling this way.
“I’ve heard from other coaches, their approach will be to wink, a nod to the kids, ‘Oh if your mask falls off or gets pulled down there’s nothing you can do about it.’ So now we are coming up with these rules and they are going to be told they aren’t really important,” he explained.
Tufts Medical Center Epidemiologist Dr. Shira Doron said mask-wearing during sports is encouraged for indoor events.
“Being outside is extremely safe. It is very rare to have transmission of COVID-19 in an outdoor setting,” she said. “If there’s a race, and people are running by each other you know short time periods of being within 6 feet outside would also not pose a very high risk.”
However, Doron said mask mandates are put in place for reasons other than preventing the transmission of COVID-19.
“I think sometimes these rules about masking outdoors are not just about trying to keep people safe but also about trying to keep people comfortable,” she said.
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