It's officially official.
The Eldorado Holiday Tournament, which would have celebrated its 56th season later this month, has been called off due to COVID-19.
Eldorado athletic director Greg Goodley, along with EHS administration made the decision Monday. It's a decision Goodley said they waited as long as they could to make.
"We really wanted to wait until the end of November, the beginning of December," Goodley said Monday morning. We held out as long as we could, just to see if anything changed. The stipulations for teams have gotten worse, even from a month ago. We just really wanted to make sure we gave everyone that opportunity. Unfortunately, it's just not going to work out this year."
The EHT now joins a plethora of other southern Illinois Christmas Holiday Tournaments, including Centralia, which would have celebrated its 78th season.
However, the corona virus wins the championship of all tournament brackets.
"I know from my high school playing experience as a player and a coach, there is no better feeling than looking forward to coming out of that tunnel and seeing those fans," Goodley said. "There are seniors who are now not going to get that chance and that's something that really bothers me. Just ask guys like Josh Bradley (EHS head coach), Mike Chamness (A-J head coach), Sayler Shurtz (Herrin head coach) or Ron Winemiller (Benton head coach), it's something you never forget and it's something high school kids don't get to experience very often. For them to be able to do it as a player and coach is pretty special. I know it was for me."
Not only is the tournament a big loss for basketball junkies during the Christmas break, but Eldorado and its surrounding towns will take a big hit financially as well.
"Trust me when I tell you, there are plenty of business and restaurants that were relying on having those three days and this tournament," Goodley added. "It helps the local economy and we were hoping to be able to do out part considering all that has been going on since March."
As for the future, next year's tournament will be held December 27-29 and everything that would have transpired this year will be bumped to next year.
"We're good contract wise as far as officials and teams," Goodley said. "The future and the teams we have in it looks awesome going forward. We just have to get though this time and pandemic to get back to playing. It's going to feel weird -- for everyone -- to not have those three days that everyone looks forward too. Not just for basketball, but the chance to see people you see every year at the tournament. It's a pretty big social event on top of some really good basketball."
Spyder Dann covers prep and college sports for the Southern Illinois LOCAL Media News Group. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.