Basketball tournament no longer encourages absenteeism. But what about those donations?

Jacob Ballmaier, Staff Writer

For many students, Hoops for Heart brings back fond memories of cheering on peers playing basketball for a whole day.

From joke teams to bands of aspiring athletes, students viewed the games with excitement and watched the bracket whittle down to the championship title. Teachers made efforts to avoid tests that day, as many of their students were either playing in games or supporting those players. But even better, students knew the day helped an important cause; proceeds from admissions and concessions were donated to the American Heart Association, which tries to fight against the dangers of heart disease and stroke.

Lake Park still put on the event, but recent policy changes brought students’ nostalgia down a notch. This year, teachers were told not to send classes down to watch games. Students were, in theory, only allowed to view games during lunch, P.E., and study hall periods.

This is hardly surprising. Lake Park is held to a high standard within the local community; dismantling what appeared, from outside the school, to be a “blow-off day” centered on basketball seemed to be a sensible move.

But that doesn’t mean the move was unnoticed, or not commented upon.

One immediate and unfortunate effect of this policy change came with a dollar amount. The donations to the NHA were the original reason for the event; without enough money, Hoops for Heart then actually becomes a blow-off day. A large portion of the money raised every year beforehand came from the dollar charge for single admissions and the five dollar wristbands that allow gym access all day. Organizers still sold wristbands this year, but who would buy one if students were only allowed to watch games for two to four periods?

Boosting attendance and continuing academics is the right thing to do, but Lake Park needs a solution for next year’s likely revenue drop if it wants to retain interest and donations for Hoops for Heart. Perhaps a spirit week or a bake sale could help in gathering funds.

However, one thing is certain: the school cannot break tradition and cancel Hoops for Heart. It has been one of the unifying events for Lake Park, where nearly all students rally around their favorite teams and spectacular basketball talent. Most importantly, as heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, awareness of and charity toward this cause is still desperately needed.