MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - For nearly 40 years, the best high school basketball players nationwide have descended upon Myrtle Beach for the Beach Ball Classic.
“It is extremely exciting. The fact that every other tournament in the country’s been canceled, except the Beach Ball Classic,” said former Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, who’s involved in planning the tournament.
But as coronavirus cases surge throughout the country, precautions are in place in order to keep the event going.
Rhodes said not only did they cap the event’s attendance, masks and temperature checks are required.
And while the tournament is what put Myrtle Beach on the map for sports tourism, Rhodes said he knows it won’t be the economic powerhouse this year as it was in year’s past.
“Percentage wise, we’ll probably be down about 30 to 40 percent on economic impact. We are still, between the girl’s tournament and the boy’s tournament, we’re still going to generate over a million dollars to the city,” he added.
But for the fans, what’s most important is the game itself.
“Many of these kids, if they weren’t able to travel and just had to stay local, they wouldn’t get the exposure, so this is a really big deal,” said Charita Harris, a guidance counselor at a school in Richmond, Va.
And for Beach Ball Classic super fan Bobby Knight, he said he’s just happy he was able to snag some tickets.
“I’ve been coming to this beach ball thing since the early days of Socastee High School. I’ve never missed a year here. The great ones, Kobe Bryant, the stuff like that. I just love it. It’s big time talent down here,” Knight said.
The tournament will run at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center through Dec. 31.