‘The granddaddy of them all’: 43rd annual Sickle Cell Softball Tournament begins Friday
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Hundreds of people from throughout the ArkLaTex and the country will converge on northwest Louisiana on Friday, July 9 for the 43rd Annual Sickle Cell Softball Tournament. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the tournament was canceled in 2020.
The tournament, which is called the “granddaddy of them all,” is hosted by the Northwest Louisiana chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, as well as Friends of Alpha. Games are played July 9-11 at Cargill Park in Shreveport.
According to Kelly Wells, executive director of the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission, the competitive tournament brings in between 120 and 180 teams each year. The tournament is sanctioned by the American Softball Association.
“People love sports and they love to compete, not only for the title of champion of the Sickle Cell Tournament, but also when they know their money and registration goes for a really good cause like sickle cell,” Wells said. “What speaks to the quality of this tournament is they’ve continued to have consistent teams...this is something that’s always put on the calendar of some of these better teams.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, sickle cell disease is an “inherited red blood cell disorder in which there aren’t enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body.” The term “sickle” comes from the shape of these atypical blood cells; they often get caught in blood vessels, which slows or restricts blood flow and oxygen.
There is no cure for sickle cell disease, which affects around 100,000 Americans. According to the CDC, sickle cell disease “occurs in 1 out of 365 Black or African American births.”
The Sickle Cell Softball Tournament also has a very strong economic impact in the region. According to Wells, the tournament gave northwest Louisiana a $1 million economic boost.
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