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Lincoln Mayor apologizes, says daughter will no longer participate in tennis

Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 5:55 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - After backlash from some community members following her daughter’s participation in a local tennis tournament, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird apologized and said her daughter will no longer play while a ban on most youth sports continues in Lancaster County.

Mayor Gaylor Baird, in a 1-on-1 interview with 1011′s Taryn Vanderford, said in hindsight, she would have done things differently.

The Mayor’s daughter participated in the Jr. Turkey Tourney which was held at the Woods Tennis Center on Nov. 23 – Nov. 25.

“My heart hurts because I realize now in hindsight, is that our family’s decision to move away from basketball to pursue tennis because it was safer, while it made perfect sense to us and we had that information, it could not have been known to others, and while others are feeling a sense of loss,” Gaylor Baird said. “I regret that it looked like we were insensitive to that, and for that, I’m truly sorry.”

On November 16, a ban on youth sports was put in place by the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continued to rise locally.

The ban, which runs until Dec. 7, includes all contact, limited-contact, and non-contact team sports. However, that list of sports, which was created by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services in June, says “individual sports” such as tennis or golf are not regulated by any DHM.

All Lincoln Public Schools K-12 athletic events, as well as club sports, have been stopped. Although, according to LPS, students can still participate in strength & conditioning events.

The Nebraska School Activities Association was forced to move multiple events out of Lancaster County, including the Nebraska High School State Football Championships, which are typically played at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Mayor Gaylor Baird said she understands those who say she did not set a good example allowing her daughter to play in the tournament. She says her daughter will not continue to participate in tennis while the restrictions are in place.

“The last thing I want to do as the people’s mayor is cause additional sorrow or suffering. There is so much in the community as we deal with this pandemic, something that we’ve been dealing with as a community for 9 plus months,” Mayor Gaylor Baird said. “Recognizing that my family has a different standard because of my public role, {my daughter} will not continue to play tennis while youth sports are being restricted. We want to help everyone get through this really difficult time and if that helps, then that’s what we’ll do.”

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