Basketball players wearing masks?
January 28, 2006 10:46 AM   Subscribe

I was at a college women's basketball game last night, and two of the players had on clear plastic masks covering the top half of their faces. Any idea why?
posted by The Pusher Robot to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
Most likely a broken nose.
posted by poodlemouthe at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2006

Nose or face protection, probably. You'll often see it on players with a broken nose or cheekbone. The broken bone is healing fine, and doesn't affect their performance, but they don't want to get hit there while it's still healing, or even after it's healed. Sometimes for you'll see it for eye problems (scratched cornea, clogged tearducts) as well, but it's usually for protection.
posted by jlkr at 10:51 AM on January 28, 2006

It seemed odd, though, that two of their players would be wearing them (not that they couldn't both have broken noses, it just seems unlikely). Also, there weren't any bruises or other indications of injury that I could see.
posted by The Pusher Robot at 10:54 AM on January 28, 2006

Lots of people get broken noses in basketball. Two on one team isn't outside the realm of possibilty. But that's what they're for: protection.
posted by dame at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2006

Like this? Excerpt:
James broke his left cheek Wednesday when he was elbowed by Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo.

James was fitted for the mask Monday morning in Cleveland, then boarded the Cavaliers' team plane to fly to Charlotte for the game.

In warm-ups, he shot without the mask, then reluctantly donned it during the game.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:59 AM on January 28, 2006

Extrememly brief SpoFi thread but a good article linked.

I also read somewhere (can't find the article now, of course) that players get so used to the mask that they find it psychologically difficult to play without it. It's their literal game face: when they put it on, they're in game mode. It puts them in the zone. This might explain why there were two players with it; they might not both have been injured.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 11:14 AM on January 28, 2006

One famous example of this : Richard Hamilton, who apparently has little or no cartilage in his nose at this point. Ouch.
posted by selfnoise at 11:23 AM on January 28, 2006

mbrubeck: yep, like that, except also covering the nose.

Thanks for the answers, all.
posted by The Pusher Robot at 12:21 PM on January 28, 2006

Breaking a nose hurts like almost nothing else. Once you've gone thru that, you NEVER want it to happen again. Many players will wear those masks long after they need to just for the added confidense they need to know they can drive hard to the lane, land on their face and not break it again.

In addition to being painful, they take a long time to heal so often they are worn for a year or so as required by a player's or a school's insurance.
posted by pwb503 at 12:30 PM on January 28, 2006

I thought the were actually unbreakable eyeglasses.
posted by joeclark at 1:49 PM on January 29, 2006

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