‘Keep wearing your masks!’ Sports stars react to Abbott dropping Texas’ mask mandate

TJ Macias
·5 min read

Not long after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he’s liftingthe state’s mask mandate and reopening the state — despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — sports stars began sounding off.

“Too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” Abbott said Tuesday. “Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills. This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100 percent.”

Athletes, coaches and team owners stepped forward and express their concern, and shock, at the news.

“In all honesty, I’m worried about the people in our state,” San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s a pretty mystifying decision considering the situation we’re all in.”

On Wednesday, the state reported 4,781 new COVID-19 cases and 297 new deaths, according to the Texas Health and Human Services. At least43,563 people have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

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Popovich has never been one to shy away from social issues and often expresses his opinion in the public eye.

“It puts a lot of businesses in a tough spot, I think,” Popovich said. “They’re trying to do a good job of keeping everybody safe. Of course they want to open up. But getting rid of masks just seems ignorant to me.

“We have to have instant gratification and act like the pandemic is over? We already went through this once, and now we’re going to do it again? When you go into those restaurants, you take your masks off anyway when you’re eating. So how hard can it be? Now they’re going to have to talk to people that come in. And the people that didn’t want to wear masks in the first place, how do the businesses get them to wear masks? Well, now they don’t have to. So now there will be infections, one would think.”

Others share Pop’s point of view.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that despite the governor’s announcement, he has no plans to abrogate COVID safety protocols that were put into place during the start of the 2020-21 NBA season.

“Nothing will change,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said to Forbes. “We will expand our attendance in accordance with the safety standards we have set and those out in place by the city and county.”

The Dallas Stars also echoed Cuban’s mask philosophy, and are still going to allow a small portion of fans into the American Airlines Center.

“The Stars expect to have many conversations moving forward regarding the situation – the conversations will include the NHL, local leaders and medical experts,” a team spokesperson told CBS 11 Sports.

On Twitter, athletes sounded off on the decision, which comes at a critical time where the state not only has recorded more than 2.6 million coronavirus cases, second only to California, but has struggled to deliver the vaccine, especially during the recent winter storm.

Former Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant:

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Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence:

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Indiana Pacers forward Myles Turner, who was born in Bedford, a Fort Worth suburb, and attended the University of Texas at Austin:

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What will the Rangers do?

Not everyone in the sports world share these sentiments, however.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Abbott’s new executive orders could pave the way for the Texas Rangers to open their doors to much larger crowds in time for the 2021 MLB season.

“We are encouraged by Governor Abbott’s announcement today, and we will be reviewing his Executive Order for full details,” Rangers chief operating officer and president of business operations Neil Leibman said to the Dallas Morning News.

“In the coming days we will work through the necessary operational logistics to put the required protocols and health measures in place,” Leibman continued. “We look forward to responsibly welcoming fans to a Rangers game at Globe Life Field for the first time at the start of the 2021 season. Our new home was well received on the national stage as a National League Playoffs and World Series venue last year, and we are excited for Rangers fans to experience all that Globe Life Field has to offer.”

Fans flocked to AT&T Stadium

When it comes to fan attendance at sporting events in Texas during the pandemic, especially when it comes to football, the state has been walking the fine line between risking the loss of more money in the industry, and risking the lives of Texans by allowing more spectators in arenas.

In January, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose team went 6-10 during the 2020 NFL season, bragged about setting the record for fan attendance during the global pandemic.

“I think we set the world record for attendance for a venue this year at our stadium in the world of pandemic,” the Cowboys owner said to 105.3 The Fan, according to the Chron. “And the results were extremely safe.”

Health care experts have also been critical of Abbott’s announcement, saying the move is a perilous one – one that could lead to a spike in new COVID cases and deaths.

Popovich is flabbergasted by Abbott’s decision.

“But when all of a sudden we act like it’s over with and all of the science tells us the opposite, you’re basically saying, ‘You get infected and you die? That’s the way it goes. We have to open up!’ That’s not the way to do it,” Popovich said. “This is really ridiculous.”