HIBBING — The Hoops on Howard 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament was just starting to become a staple event, with an increased field of teams over a brief two-summer return.

Now, the popular tournament is being put on hold.

Hoops on Howard event coordinator Jodi Maki had to make the tough decision to cancel the tournament this August due to COVID-19.

It might be 3 1/2 months away, but the call had to be made early to protect the players, volunteers and spectators that attend the event.

“We made the decision early to avoid doing a lot of work on it, then having it cancel it,” Maki said. “When you start planning an event like this, a lot of people don’t realize how much work we do on it.

“I’ve been following the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health, and it came down to this. Basketball is a contact sport. You can’t change that.”

The event may be 3 ½ months away, but it was easier to make the decision now.

“Social distancing will be a part of our lives for a long time,” Maki said. “We decided to make the announcement now. We’d be doing applications, sending out announcements and fundraising.

“Everyone is getting hit, so we didn’t feel right about that either. I would rather do that than having people holding their breath, hoping for it when you can see there was no way we could do this.”

Hoops on Howard made its return after a 12-to-14-year layoff, and that made it harder to cancel it.

“That’s the heartbreaker of it,” Maki said. “We figured this year would have been a big year. We saw a nice increase in involvement, and talking with the people who were involved with it in the past, they said that third year, that’s when it broke open.”

Maki said that she and the committee waited as long as they could before making the decision.

Now, the committee will have to meet to make plans for next year’s event.

“We’re going to, when it’s safe, meet or do a Zoom meeting,” Maki said. “We’ll get the committee together and put the steps in place for next year. That all depends on if there’s any breakthroughs on contact, and people being in close contact.

“At this point, we’ll talk about it and put steps into place. The last thing I want is for this to go away, and not have it come back.”

The committee weighed the cost of playing and the inability to keep people healthy.

“In the grand scope of things, it’s such a little thing,” Maki said. “When you’re looking at what this virus is doing, and they still think it can potentially make its way here, hopefully not, but I don’t think any of us won’t be affected by it.

“This decision wasn’t made prematurely. I feel good about this decision. It was the right one to make, disappointing, but the right choice.”

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