2017-05-18 / Voices

Weekend Tournaments Serve An Important Purpose


Throughout the year there are plenty of basketball tournaments for the youth. For a small fee a team can be entered and provided with a weekend of basketball, usually hosted by one of the schools.

There tournaments serve as fundraisers for teams, awareness events, social gatherings and even at times are very educational. On occasion there are those that have been critical of how much money and effort goes in to these events. Some have even argued that we should replace them with instructional skill clinics. That idea does make sense on many levels, but the economic impact of these tournaments is also valuable, as the majority of the funds raised go directly back to the youth.

Two weeks ago I spent the majority of my weekend coaching and serving as an official at the Rain In the Face Classic that was put on by the Wicahpi Topa Society, and its founder Adonis Saltes. I hadn’t planned on spending the whole weekend at the tournament, but I couldn’t help to enjoy myself as teams from 9-states came to the Black Hills to compete.

As the weekend went by I came to the realization that had this tournament not been happening many of the kids that were participating would have had absolutely no where else to go. Some of these kids would be stuck in drug and alcohol ridden homes. The statistics would tell us that at least some of these kids were homeless, while others were likely to be abused in their homes had they not been playing. These tournaments are valuable in that they give our children an opportunity to be lost in the game.

The parents, coaches, organizers and officials deserve credit for their selflessness. It is is expensive and time consuming to put a team together and cover expenses. It takes nearly every minute of a weekend to make sure a tournament runs smoothly. And as we all know, volunteering to referee at at an independent tournament is a very nerve-racking experience.

What many people forget is that the people who are making sure our youth have a place go to on these weekends receive nothing in return for their sacrifice.

If anything they deserve a little bit of recognition. You all are truly heroes.

*Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

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