By Carley Milligan | Baltimore Business Journal

Under Armour unveiled a new performance-focused face mask June 11, seeking to make exercise in gyms and in groups safer for athletes without restricting their breathing.

Health officials widely encourage the wearing of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The coronavirus is often spread through respiratory droplets, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says wearing a face covering can help prevent the droplets from infecting others.

In the age of COVID-19, many people have resorted to creating their own masks from old T-shirts or have bought them from smaller makers online. More recently, bigger retailers such as Gap have also developed their own.

Under Armour’s UA Sportsmask takes a new approach, specifically seeking to serve athletes by making its mask more breathable and designed for exercise. Most masks currently on the market could make for an uncomfortable training experience for athletes, especially during the summer.

In announcing its new product, Under Armour showed some local and national athletes wearing the Sportsmask while exercising. They included Baltimore-based basketball program Team Thrill, pro lacrosse midfielder Taylor Cummings and NFL All-Pro return specialist Deonte Harris, who plays for the New Orleans Saints.

The new UA Sportsmask was developed by Under Armour’s innovation team shortly after the company began manufacturing regular face masks as well as face shields and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care and community organizations in mid-March.

“We knew our athletes would need us to come through quickly with a [solution] to aid their return to training, one that would put health and safety first and adhere to current CDC guidelines,” said Kyle Blakely, vice president of materials innovation at Under Armour.

The UA Sportsmask is water-resistant and reusable. It is held in place with stretchy ear loops and includes a moldable nose-bridge to keep air from fogging glasses. It also has side panels for additional coverage.

Under Armour is selling the masks for $30 online. They come in four sizes and only in black for now. Additional colors are expected to be released later this summer and fall, along with a worldwide in-store release. As part of the launch, Under Armour is also distributing some of the masks to student-athletes.

Within an hour of launching, the product was sold out online. But CEO Patrik Frisk tweeted that more will be available come July.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Under Armour

Issue 263: July 2020

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