MAYB tournament organizers, teams in Wichita adjust as COVID-19 concern lingers
With 400-plus teams from Kansas and neighboring states arriving in Wichita for the MAYB Summer Kickoff tournament, organizers and participants make adjustments as the threat from COVID-19 lingers.
"We're seeing an explosive number in cases in sports, in sports-related activities," said Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Dr. Lee Norman. "And granted, I have nothing against sports. I love sports, but these gatherings are going to infect people."
While the state's top health official expresses concern, the youth basketball tournament in Wichita is underway, spread out to nearly one dozen locations in the area.
Tournament officials on Thursday said they expect to see at least 4,000 athletes playing in Wichita this weekend. Added to that number are family members and coaches.
Measures to help prevent potential spread of COVID-19 at MAYB Summer Kickoff tournament sites include removing bleachers to promote social distancing, recommending that people watching the games wear masks and asking teams to leave the facility once their games are over to keep gathering sizes low.
On Wednesday, two days before the start of the tournament in Wichita, MAYB President Greg Raleigh said about 20 teams dropped out due to the concern of a possible spread of COVID-19.
"We stand by, you know, if you don't feel comfortable, we don't want you to come and put yourself in a situation you don't want to be in," Raleigh said. "Therefore, (we) lost a few teams, and that's okay."
He said tournament organizes don't want the Summer Kickoff to be a reason for further spread of COVID-19 in Sedgwick County.
"That's what we want to prevent. I don't want to become a cluster. If that would be the case, then we would be done," Raleigh said.
Teams from surrounding states including Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa and Texas are in Wichita, many representing states that are seeing their largest increases of COVID-19 cases.
"We make sure that all parents wear masks, especially all the parents who traveled with the kids here, so we wear masks even when we're driving here and when we go home," said Vince Williams, father of a player for the Dallas Foundation.
Players say their "new normal" includes temperature checks before and after each practice and putting on hand sanitizer and sanitizing all of the balls after practices.