Kids mask up for holiday basketball tourney

January 5, 2021

Kids are amazing. I know I’m biased, but they are. Through the entire COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve witnessed stories of people doing extraordinary things. However, one of the most extraordinary things I’ve seen was over the holidays. There is a basketball tournament played annually in St Louis. It’s an all-girls contest at Visitation High School.

What was stunning about this year’s tournament was that every team played every game with masks on. That has to be one of the most amazingly athletic and simultaneously unselfish occurrences in recent memory. We’ve seen leagues across the board take precautions. The NBA played in a bubble. The NFL requires everyone not on the field to wear masks during games. We have seen interviews conducted over Zoom. On-field interviews have distance requirements. We have not seen athletes playing their games in masks, though, particularly in sports with high cardio outputs.

High schools don’t have the budgets of the NBA or the NFL. The kids can’t be tested every day. Their individual schools and school districts can’t afford to isolate them inside a lavish resort. After viewing some photos from the tournament at stltoday.com, kids were wearing masks that you and I would wear if we were going to the grocery store. You know, those blue masks that come in packs of 30 or 40. Kids were wearing those to play basketball in. They don’t come with special ventilation systems. They’re not high tech. They’re not athlete-friendly. It’s hard to breathe in those things when you’re running up and down the court trying to shoot the three, make a layup, block a shot or dive for a loose ball.

These kids did the dang thang anyway. Dang thang is a technical term meaning doing what you have to do, regardless of the circumstances. Game after game, half after half, possession after possession, the kids kept their masks on. They wanted to do something they really love. What they did was make the sacrifice necessary to do what they really love. Many adults are unwilling to make this kind of sacrifice, even in the interest of public health. Some have been outright defiant – getting into shouting matches with government officials or walking into a business almost hoping an employee challenges them.

For kids to do what they want, adults require them to take responsibility in other aspects of their lives. At this point, wearing a mask is no different than cleaning their room, finishing their homework, taking out the trash, or doing the dishes. It’s necessary so they can do what they really want to do. Kids model our lessons and we take pride in them doing so. If we are to return to normal, if we are to return to the liberties we enjoy so much, then it’s time to review our own lessons and heed our own advice.

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