MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — When the Mount Desert Island High School athletics department was given the go–ahead to host games during the pandemic, several items were purchased to protect the health and safety of everyone involved. One of those purchases included electronic whistles.
While browsing sports catalogues before the pandemic, Assistant Athletic Director Matt Umphrey would often see the electronic whistles for sale and had a hard time understanding the purpose of purchasing one. “Back then I thought, why would anyone want to buy, let alone use, this [electronic whistle]?” he said.
Little did Umphrey know that just months later, the electronic whistle would be selling out everywhere.
Using just about any whistle emits droplets into the air, which is considered a violation of respiratory etiquette by the CDC.
Umphrey explained that the electronic whistles are handheld and can be activated with a push of a thumb. “You just press a button, and it whistles,” he said. In addition to referees who are using them during games, the whistles are also used by coaches at scrimmages and practices.
FOX 40, the whistle brand used by high school officials, began making and marketing its electronic whistle 10 years ago. The tone of the whistle can be adjusted by a switch on the side.
According to a DICK’S Sporting Goods representative, the handheld gadgets were barely selling prior to COVID-19, but “we haven’t been able to keep them in stock since the pandemic hit.”