The Boulder Independence Day Tournament has long been a year-round project to put together for Dan Burns, with the man himself certainly being one who is a stickler for ironing out all the finer details to put on a spectacular softball tournament.
However, several factors all forming a perfect storm the past eight weeks forced Burns on Thursday to announce that the IDT was canceled for 2020. He confirmed the news to BoCoPreps.com on Friday afternoon, with a heavy heart.
“I want it to be safe for everybody, and we couldn’t wait any longer,” Burns said. “It was difficult because some of my teams wanted to come, but they just had to know that once they got here I couldn’t right now guarantee that they’d be able to play and they’d be stuck paying for hotel rooms.
“It’s a blow in many respects, but I just felt it’s the right thing to do right now.”
In what was supposed to be its 24th year, the tournament continues to run smoothly alongside the Triple Crown Sparkler — the two tournaments combining to bring hundreds of age-group teams to the Denver Metro area. Along with that are hundreds of college coaches and recruiters looking for the next diamond in the rough.
This year, the NCAA extended its dead period through July 31, meaning that no coaches or college representatives would have been able to watch the players and contact them directly through the tournament’s play.
That was just one of several reasons why Burns felt pulling the plug on it was the best course of action. Other reasons include having near 100 of the 216 teams scheduled already submit cancellation notices, plus many unknowns about the availability of city fields normally reserved for the week of play.
“In a nutshell, it was those three things that drove the decision,” Burns said. “I want to run a good, quality tournament, hopefully the best in the country, but I want it to be safe for players and I’m no doctor.
“I don’t want to be twisting anybody’s arm to be able to play. I want (the experts) to say, hey, we think it’s safe now.”
It was not an easy decision. The IDT is the main fundraiser for the Colorado Stars softball organization, and while they obviously will not be pushing out expenses for the tournament like normal, Burns said the Stars will likely feel the impact of the tournament’s cancellation in the budget nonetheless.
The tournament, which fields brackets in Boulder, Louisville, Longmont and Broomfield, also provides the area with an economic surge in many cases as a majority of the teams involved are from out of state supply hotels with booked rooms, restaurants with hungry families and entertainment dollars.
Burns said the hope is to be back in full in 2021, knowing there are a number of organizations nationwide that view the IDT as a premier, not-to-miss event that has connected young women to college opportunities they might not otherwise see.
“(July 4) is the biggest showcase week in the country, and everybody comes here,” Burns said. “We run the tournament to help young women, and there wasn’t going to be the (college) exposure this year. I expect things to return more to normal next year.”