MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) — 77-year-old Bobby Knight has been coming to watch the Beach Ball Classic since the beginning and hasn’t missed a tournament ever, saying he’s even watched Kobe Bryant play.
“I’ve been coming to these beach ball things since the early days of Socastee High School and I’ve never missed a year here,” Knight said.
Knight said one of his favorite parts is watching the players who eventually move onto the NBA, like Kobe Bryant.
“I’ve never seen a high schooler better than Kobe,” Knight said.
Knight added, “I just love it. This big-time talent down here that I don’t get to see locally most of the time so it’s like a vacation to come down here and see all the great players, play.”
Knight said he was worried with COVID-19 that the tournament wouldn’t be held this year.
“I come down here, I look forward to it every year and I’m fortunate to be here on a pandemic year but I’ll be back as long as my health holds up,” Knight said.
Executive Director of the Beach Ball Classic (BBC), John Rhodes said that they took safety precautions this year like having limited capacity, social distancing and mask-wearing.
Rhodes expects the event to still generate over a million dollars to the city, even with limited capacity and attendance.
“The Beach Ball Classic has started sports tourism in this town in 1981 and that’s how it’s grown to what it is today in a direct economic impact in sports tourism today,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes said that the Beach Ball Classic usually has a great impact on tourism in the Grand Strand.
“The economic impact is not going to be what it has been in the past, economic impact of this whole city is not gonna be what it has in the past,” Rhodes said.
The Beach Ball Classic will be livestreamed until Dec. 31, when the tournament ends.
For a full list of games that will be streamed and where to watch, click here.