June 27, 2014 in Sports


Hoopfest had a few hangups before it caught fire
File photo

Co-founder Rick Betts, pictured here in 1998, had reasons to be worried that Hoopfest would never take off.
(Full-size photo)

Two weeks before the first Hoopfest, co-founder Rick Betts had reason to wonder if it would be the last. All of 40 teams had sent in entries. At that rate, each would have its own basket.

If Hoopfest seems like an organizational miracle now, it wasn’t necessarily then. Soon Betts discovered the problem: the phone number listed on the entry form for prospective players to call for more information was an office at Special Olympics, the tournament’s charity beneficiary. And when it wouldn’t stop ringing, the guy at the desk simply stopped answering.

Amazingly, Hoopfest HQ was able to handle a late surge that produced 512 teams – more than double what was expected. No less amazing was that Spokane took this new disruption in downtown in stride. Amid the hubbub on Saturday, a couple of policemen strolled right past a guy snoozing in a doorway of Old City Hall and didn’t roust him out as a vagrant. Of course, the guy happened to be Jim McPhee, who had just finished scoring about 2,000 points in a college career at Gonzaga – and, luckily, this pre-dated the sit-lie ordinance.

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