“…wearing a mask while playing was no different from wearing a parachute while skydiving.”
The above quote is purportedly from the late Jacques Plante, former goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens Hockey club when his bravery was questioned for wearing a mask. As absurd as it seems now, there was a time when hockey players not only fought each other—but for the freedom not to wear safety equipment and cited obstructed vision and discomfort for not wearing helmets or masks. Plante had experimented with a mask in practice. His final decision was cemented after taking a 100 mile an hour puck to the face, that broke his nose, also requiring his face to be sewn back together from the resulting cut that extended from his mouth to his nose. Plante’s coach objected to the mask as did other players, including other goalies around the league, who were well aware of the danger. Plante’s prominence in the league made the mask acceptable and now—not wearing one would be out of the question.
That sort of machismo was not confined to hockey, baseball resisted batting helmets. Face masks, and mouthpieces in both football and boxing became standard fare—once common sense took over. Common sense seems to be lacking on team Anti. Yes, anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers are ready to take one to the chops of our children to prove their loyalty to irrationality. With schools opening, children and teachers are either being hospitalized or dying. The politicization of life-saving measures is beyond baffling.
On May 31, 1955, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a statement that partially read: “According to Dr. Francis' report on last year's field tests, the child who was vaccinated had a three times better chance of avoiding polio than the child who was not vaccinated.” After some initial problems with the vaccine’s efficacy, the nation applauded the science, rallied around America’s children and the country collectively solved a scourge. We are now living in an America where placing your country above your party affiliation is a political sin; it is like a marriage made in hell. Like in the past, people and players wedded to their fanaticism consider safety a surrender, not salvation.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has all but put up billboards saying your children are not as important as my presidential aspirations. It would have been easy and expedient for him to say I will leave it up to each school district if they want to require masks, and left with clean hands. Mr. DeSantis instead, found it necessary to imitate Trump and surrender morality for ambition, muddying his hands along with the lives of innocents. Even more to the point, no Floridian or visitor it seems is as important as the Governor’s banal neglect for life. The one good instinct the former president had was getting out of Afghanistan of course the difference may have been Mr. Trump was motivated by the adulation and President Biden wanted fewer flag-draped coffins—because he does not think our soldiers are “losers” and “suckers.” Political fanaticism kept us in a 20-year war and fanaticism may keep Covid in our lives another twenty. Plante thought a better way to use his head was to cover it with a mask.
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