NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WJBF)– Several players at Nike’s Peach Jam have reportedly tested positive for COVID, affecting at least five different teams.
The report comes from the New York Times. So far, no comment from event organizers, but the event has been closed to the public because of the pandemic.
“COVID is contagious, more contagious when you have an indoor sport and people are yelling and screaming out,” pediatrician Dr. Carol Tarver said.
However, each team has 30 guest passes for players’ parents, and college and NBA scouts are welcome.
“He’s worked hard to get here so to see him out there competing with some of the top athletes in the country… it’ s a blessing,” dad of a Peach Jam player, Rhodney Donaldson said.
There are still concerns about indoor contact sports amid the pandemic. The COVID-19 vaccine is approved for high schoolers, and it’s especially recommended for athletes.
“If they’re going to play, they should be vaccinated,” Dr. Tarver said. “And if they’re not vaccinated they’ve got to take all the necessary precautions.”
This year, the girls Nike Nationals tournament, usually played in Chicago, is being played concurrently with the Peach Jam.
“It just shows hard work really pays off and that you can really get here if you just put in the time and effort,” Nike Nationals player, Amiya Carrol said.
The Peach Jam is the longest standing and one of the most prestigious high school basketball tournaments in the nation.
Many of these players have prepared their whole lives for an opportunity like this, and parents say they don’t want it going to waste over contracting COVID.
“He goes from the court to the truck to his room,” dad of a Peach Jam player, Sergio Wilcher said. “We’re from New Jersey, so we’ve been dealing with COVID at a high level for a long time.”
“I always have my mask on, make sure my mask is up and to not be in restaurants the whole time with the mask down,” Carrol said. “Just make sure I stay isolated.”
After more than a year of serious health concerns and a missed basketball season, parents and players say they’re just grateful to be back.
“It’s a blessing to see the smiles on the kids’ faces this week,” Donaldson said.
And Wilcher said his favorite part of the Peach Jam is, “Watching my son win games!”
The Peach Jam and Nike Nationals tournaments both wrap up this weekend.