The 33rd Annual Hoover-Ball National Championships, scheduled for August 8 has been cancelled. Additionally, the Hoover-Ball Youth Tournament slated for Friday, August 7, is cancelled as well. The events are a popular feature of Hoover’s Hometown Days, an annual celebration of Herbert Hoover’s birthday in his hometown of West Branch. The festival has been curtailed due to precautions taken during the Corona Virus pandemic.
“It’s really the only safe choice,” said Jerry Fleagle, president and CEO of the Hoover Presidential Foundation and organizers of the annual games. “In an abundance of caution, and careful consideration of CDC guidelines, we’ve determined the risk is too high and it is not possible to protect the players.”
Teams consist of groups of friends from various households and the athletes play in close proximity to each other, often colliding while catching and throwing a four-pound medicine ball covered in their sweat over an eight foot high net. “It’s impossible to enforce social distancing and prevent exposure among the athletes,” said Brad Reiners, lead organizer of the games.
Last year, just over 100 fourth through ninth grade students participated in the Youth Tourney, drawing a crowd of 300 spectators during the Hoover’s Hometown Days opening night. The National Championships on the following day drew 150 players for the 10-hour event. “We’re looking forward to putting this pandemic behind us and bringing the games back in 2021,” Fleagle said.