Tri-State basketball league files suit to continue games, tournaments

Local basketball league files suit to continue tournaments

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - Several basketball leagues joined together to file a lawsuit against the Warren County Health District and the former and interim Director of the Ohio Department of Health.

The teams are fighting for the right to continue games and tournaments.

FOX 19 NOW was inside the Landmark Sports Complex in Evendale Wednesday night as different teams with the Southwestern Ohio Basketball League practiced.

“You have to limit who can be on what court and what not, so that’s fine, but I think we are ready for that next step,” said Tom Sunderman, who is the owner of Southwestern Ohio Basketball LLC.

It’s still unclear when that next step will come. On May 26, Ohio began allowing limited-contact sports to resume. Then, on June 22, practice and intra-squad scrimmages were allowed to continue for all sports in the state. However, there is still no timeline for when the league’s athletes will be able to have tournaments again.

That has Sunderman concerned and frustrated with Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health.

“We were told there were three phases for contact sports, and the phase disappeared. Right now there’s no rhyme or reason to the way he’s opening things back up.

“Right now we’ve been closed down for 16 weeks, and we’re trying to market uncertainty. You have parents out there, kids out there. You have teams out there wanting to know what is going on, and we can’t give them any answers,” Sunderman said.

That’s what sparked the lawsuit that was filed on Monday against the Warren County Health Department, former Director of the Ohio Department of Health Amy Acton and interim Director Lance Himes.

The lawsuit calls for the state to open large venues and allow sports leagues to continue games and tournaments.

“Financially on the indoor sports complex in the state of Ohio, this is our biggest revenue,” Sunderman said. “This is our biggest revenue-driving time of the year. Most people think that basketball is winter, but we typically drive 60 percent of our revenue from March through July.”

Sunderman adds a major loss of revenue isn’t his only concern, but banning games, tournaments, and events also has a major effect on the players.

“You have older kids who are missing the opportunity to play in front of the collegiate coaches to have the opportunity to get themselves a free education,” he explained.

Sunderman says they have a plan in place to keep the facilities clean and the players safe.

Southwestern Ohio Basketball, Inc, Elite Ohio Players Basketball LLC, and Kingdom Sports Center, Inc. are the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit. Currently, they are still waiting for a response from the state.

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