By Dara Levy
Imagine breaking away from a swarm of defenders in deck hockey, and after weeks of training, you’re finally ready to charge toward the goal. Suddenly, your vision is dramatically obstructed and your nose is flooded with pungent fumes. No, it’s not the harsh gym lighting or the odor from the locker room—it’s those goggles on your face. For many students, this scenario has become an unpleasant reality.
According to physical education safety rules, all students must wear goggles during the hockey unit. Between periods, the goggles are stored in a cabinet that uses UV light to sanitize them, a process which, according to Coordinator of Physical Education Mr. James DeSarno, is the same cleaning process the science department uses for lab goggles.
As part of the research for this article, Hi’s Eye swabbed a pair of gym goggles and allowed the samples to grow in a petri dish with a bacterial culture. After 72 hours, Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection) was found growing in the dish. However, the same bacteria were found on a chair in the cafeteria, and many more bacteria varieties were found on the Health Office door.
Though the UV light is meant to rid the goggles of germs, it does not free them from sweat accumulated through intense hockey play, according to DeSarno. Junior Reece Zakarin said, "[The goggles] are always sweaty and smelly from other periods."
Physical Education Teacher Mr. Brian Sloan said that he would wear the goggles, and has in past deck hockey tournaments. However, DeSarno said, "I’m more prone to wear them earlier in the day—not because of germs, but because they get sweaty."
Some students have expressed concern with the impaired visibility brought on by wearing the scratched goggles.
Senior Kayla Seigelstein said, "When I wear them, it feels like I’m wearing the drunk goggles from health class because [the blurriness] makes me dizzy."
Said senior Olivia Pecora, "I understand that the purpose is to protect us, but the goggles need to be clearer."
Funding for new goggles or UV equipment is limited. "We asked Santa to have his elves do some scrubbing in between periods, but we haven’t gotten a response yet. Remember, it is their off season," said DeSarno.
According to DeSarno, the alternative to wearing eye protection would be not to have the deck hockey unit at all—a consequence he believes few students would want.
Senior Nicoletta Kalos purchased goggles for the girls in her gym class because she said the school’s goggles were not fully sanitized.
Kalos said, "I feel at ease knowing I’m the only one wearing my goggles and not sharing them with the whole school."
So the next time you’re wondering whether the sweat on your neck is from your heated deck hockey game, or if it’s the leftovers on your goggles from a fierce competition in Period 2, just remember that at least the perspiration has been UV sanitized first.