While finding ways to remain active during a pandemic may seem difficult, one sport stands out as the most suitable to participate in under social distancing guidelines: fencing. The combat sport that involves hitting your opponents with blades in the designated target area to receive points already adheres to the safety guidelines of COVID-19 — to an extent.
Fencers always wear masks so they don’t get hit in the face with a pernicious blade. When I think of the word “mask” today, though, what goes through my mind is either a surgical or cloth mask. Similar to how fencing masks protect the wearer from a blade, surgical or cloth masks provide protection from the germs and infected particles in the air. However, fencing masks are made from metal and have a myriad of pores that fencers use to see out of and breathe through, doing virtually nothing to prevent transmission of the disease. To avert the spread of germs, USA fencing implemented requirements to use a face mask to cover the holes in the fencing mask. Currently, fencers can either place an everyday mask inside their fencing mask or use a face-covering specifically designed with two prongs to fit within the pores of the fencing mask.
While many other sports demand hands-on physical contact between opponents, contact is limited in fencing. In an effort to avoid being scored on, fencers often stay far apart from one another, safely out of reach of their opponent’s blade. Fencers are already social-distancing themselves on the strip, a fencer’s playing field, with the exception of actions in close quarters. Of course, the distance kept in fencing does not align with the social distancing six-feet rule, because neither one of the fencers would be able to score a point; that is, unless someone has a reach of over six feet, which is virtually impossible.
As mentioned in the previous section, fencers don’t come in contact with their opponents as often as they would in other sports. They do, however, share the same reels as others when hooking up to the strip. Reels contain the wires that connect fencers to the scoring machines. But instead of using bare hands to hook up to the strip, fencers use gloves, limiting the spread of germs.
Unlike many mainstream sports such as soccer and basketball, fencing is an individual sport. To adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, the number of people allowed to attend a fencing practice is capped at most clubs. However, as it is an individual sport, this does not make a huge difference — besides the fact that having more fencers to practice with is always better. The only people involved in a bout are the two fencers on the strip and the referee, who is only needed in formal competitions.
Since fencers already wear masks, are distanced from their opponents and wear gloves, the rules of fencing already adhere to the safety guidelines implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Fencing is pretty much the perfect — or at least the safest — sport to participate in during a pandemic.