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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


There is a lot to celebrate if you can find the games

Desert Horse' JR Camel reacts after defeating Charlies Gold during Hoopfest 2015 on Sunday, June 28, 2015, at Nike Center Court  in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / Spokesman Review)
Desert Horse' JR Camel reacts after defeating Charlies Gold during Hoopfest 2015 on Sunday, June 28, 2015, at Nike Center Court in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / Spokesman Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We make no secret about it. No journalistic balance here. We are an unabashed Hoopfest supporter. Have been for more than a quarter century. And continue to be even when it is so hot you think your feet are going to melt. Read on.


• Yes, it was, ahem, warm this weekend downtown. So warm, in fact, I contemplated jumping into the ice truck parked in Riverfront Park about seven times – or roughly equal to the number of baskets I scored in all my years of playing. But the warmth didn’t do anything to diminish the enjoyment of wandering downtown and taking in the world’s largest foul fest. (Aside No. 1: OK, I’m sure there is some soccer tournament somewhere in South America that holds that crown, but let’s not nitpick here.) However, just because I love Hoopfest, it doesn’t mean there are parts of it that don’t drive me insane. This year I’m going to focus on one element that no one even imagined when we first took to the streets in 1999: the iPhone app. Hoopfest last year introduced an app to keep track of teams. It worked OK. Which isn’t good enough in this era of smartphones and unlimited data plans. So the organization invested a bunch of money into improving the product this year. Good for the folks in charge. Except they should probably ask for a refund. And the app developers should be hanging their heads in shame. Let me take you through my adventures with the Hoopfest app from the past week. I follow so many teams, I lose track of the number. Kids that have played basketball or baseball for me in the past, play for me now, friends of my sons, friends of Kim’s friends, etc. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. The app limits the user to 16 teams, which was fine by me. Anymore and I might have lost my mind, and blown out a hamstring, trying to see games. I began entering the teams early last week, when the app became operative. Friday afternoon, however, none of the 12 teams or so I had entered had times. I entered a couple new teams, and lo and behold, the time of their first games came up on the screen. But the teams I had already searched out and put into the phone? Nope. No matter how many times I refreshed, nothing came up. I finally ended up re-entering the teams and, about a half-hour of re-entry work later, I knew when each team’s opening game was. A great help, if the process hadn’t been too user-friendly. (Aside No. 2: There was a stretch there in which no team searches could be done. I got an error message, even though I knew the teams existed. I gave the benefit of the doubt, just presumed the app was undergoing an upgrade or maintenance or something and waited it out.) Saturday morning, armed with my fully-charged phone, Kim and I headed off to watch the enthusiasm of youth on full display. Everything was fine until the first games were done. Then the app fell apart. Trying to find out what time teams played their second game was a nightmare. At one point early Saturday afternoon, the app only showed two of the four icons that had appeared earlier under the teams, the share icon (which I would never use) and the bracket one (which never worked). The team info, the key element, disappeared for a while. It reappeared later, though the information contained within was spotty at best. I finally began just opening the on-line team finder, entering the team numbers (when they were available on the app), calling up the brackets, refreshing them manually and following the teams that way. I checked the app and Saturday night four of my 16 teams were listed as out. Three of them were still playing. I checked periodically Sunday and sometimes the information was accurate, sometimes it wasn’t. That’s not good enough in the world of apps. You hit your Solitaire app and you expect the cards to show up. Hit your Pandora, and the Zamfir station better start playing. Your bank app has to be secure, and give you the right account balance. The smart phone consumer is spoiled. (Aside No. 3: Yes, I know. We are all spoiled in every way. I saw enough whiny people downtown this weekend to realize that.) They want a product they can trust. I’m sure the Hoopfest folks feel the same way. You spend money, you are promised a certain performance and you expect it to happen. It does every year with this tournament. The courts go up on time, the volunteers are taken care of, the games are organized, supervised and quantified, everything is broken down in a flash. Thousands of people are moved through downtown, Riverfront Park and the Arena district seamlessly. It’s a beautifully run enterprise that is near-perfect in a lot of ways. I am thankful every year for everyone who puts the time in to get it done. Now if there was only a reliable way to make sure spectators knew when and where their teams’ games were being played ...


• Gonzaga: Nothing out of Los Angeles on the Nike Skills Academy, in which Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis are participating, but we do have a story on BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth, who will be the leader of the Cougars next season.

• Indians: Nothing like a shutout to ensure victory. Spokane posted an 8-0 win yesterday at Salem-Keiser.

• Shadow: With four matches left, the Shadow have moved into second in the Evergreen Premier League following a 2-1 win in Yakima.

• Hoopfest: There is a lot of Hoopfest coverage in todays’ paper, from the news section to sports. Tom Clouse has the competitive games covered with this piece on the women’s championship, won by a group of former GU players, and another story on the men’s championship winners.

• Ironman: It’s hard to imagine doing what these folks did yesterday in the heat of the day. But Jim Meehan powered through and got the story on the Coeur d’Alene Ironman winners.

• Seahawks: The Hawks will have a few more single-game tickets to sell in July and they are going to do something dynamic with them. ... John McGrath thinks the Hawks should just pay Russell Wilson.

• Mariners: I’ve been there before. The winning run on third, the pitcher (pitchers!) spikes a ball into the dirt and it’s do or die. You throw your chest in front of the pitch and hope. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Mike Zunino tried Sunday but failed and the Angels had a 3-2, 10-inning victory. ... Robinson Cano was back in the lineup without the big bump on his head. The guy who supplied it felt terrible. ... Geoff Baker thinks the M’s should bring back Ichiro.

• Sounders: Losing a soccer match is bad enough. But losing while also laying down in the final minutes is awful. And unacceptable, especially when it is against your archrivals. But that’s exactly what the Sounders did in Portland last night. The 4-1 final was not what Sigi Schmid expected. Neither did the Sounders players. And the Timbers? They thought they deserved it.


• And I thought we were all done with Chambers Bay? Silly me. By the way, the worst loss I ever suffered thanks to a wild pitch? A 54-foot curveball thrown by Matt Young got past me with a runner on third and the game on the line in high school. Cathedral beat us. It was the school’s first win in our league in years and the players celebrated like they had just won the World Series as we trudged off the field. I’ll never forget how bad I felt. Until later ...

Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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