Spokane Hoopfest 2013: Smoooooth

This past weekend I concluded my sixth year as a Spokane Hoopfest court monitor and I can say that it will go down in the books as one of my smoothest tournaments ever. I had zero major issues and for the most part, everyone kept it cool in my bracket. While Hoopfest 2013 will mostly be remembered as a successful and smooth tourney through my eyes, I will also remember it for a few other reasons. Here is my Hoopfest 2013 recap.

Even though I was assigned to the exact same court I monitored on last year at Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard, I got a totally different assignment. For the first time ever, I was in charge of a family bracket. The teams that made up my bracket consisted of adult males between the ages of 18-60 who were all related to each other. Mostly I had teams with a dad and three sons or I had teams that had two older brothers each with one of their own sons. I also had teams where I had absolutely no idea how the family connection worked, even after a lot of my own analyzing.

As a court monitor this year at Hoopfest, I presided over a family bracket.

As a court monitor this year at Hoopfest, I presided over a family bracket.

It was fun watching my bracket battle it out. There is a certain chemistry between families on an athletic court/field and it showed during Hoopfest. Most of the teams on my court utilized awesome teamwork throughout the weekend and motivated each other in a respectful and effective manner. The respect that the families showed one another on their own teams also extended to their opponents as well. Although arguments and tense moments definitely occurred between teams during play, good sportsmanship mostly always prevailed and always when the games concluded the opposing teams congratulated each other and left everything on the court. After last year, it was definitely refreshing to see.


My sixth year as a court monitor at Hoopfest went very smoothly.

My sixth year as a court monitor at Hoopfest went very smoothly.

I think only two controversial moments happened the whole weekend.

1. On one of the late Saturday games, one of the teams went a little crazy when they heard that their game was headed to overtime. They thought that with regulation over and with them holding to a 19-18 lead that the game was over. I explained that the game would continue in overtime until a team reached 20 points. Although angry and feeling like I was against them they finished the game, ultimately winning. Afterwards they apologized for their little freak out session, even before I put the exact rule that I correctly applied right in front of them.

2. A team was convinced that the score reflected on the red and blue scorecard was incorrect. I guess I shouldn’t even say “team”…it was a player on a team who was later joined by another one of his teammates in the mini dispute. They thought the scorekeeper (my dad) took away one of their points and gave it to the other team. After explaining the last few possessions with the players and reaching the score that we originally had reflected on the scorecard, they grudgingly gave up their fight.

I will definitely remember Hoopfest 2013 for the weather. All week long the forecast stated that both days of Hoopfest Weekend would be hot, with temperatures reaching the mid-nineties. While Sunday lived up to its billing, Saturday did not. I woke up at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning and looked out my window at the overcast, drizzly sky and asked myself “What’s going on here?” My mom assured me that it would blow over but it never did. For most of Saturday, the streets of downtown Spokane had dark clouds hovering above with several different periods of rain off and on. At one point, the whole tournament stopped for about 10 minutes for the sake of safety as it poured down rain.

A lot of my time on Saturday at Hoopfest was in the rain.

A lot of my time on Saturday at Hoopfest was in the rain.

The intermittent rain had some unpleasant results. First off, I had never seen so many nasty slips and falls in any other year. The wet courts slowed down play but it still couldn’t stop players from sliding around. Probably every player had at least one experience where they found themselves sitting on the cold, unforgiving pavement. Also, majority of the courts were sent into disarray as the tape markings could not withstand the rain coupled with the warming of the courts when the rain would let up. This resulted in many court with no markings whatsoever. My court actually held up pretty well but there was still confusion and cheap blackboard chalk could only do so much. But once Sunday came along the clouds disappeared and the bright sun shined down on us for the whole day, bringing the type of weather that is typical, and preferred, for Hoopfest.

Come Sunday morning, "real" Hoopfest weather appeared.

Come Sunday morning, real Hoopfest weather appeared.

I will also remember Hoopfest 2013 for having a little more downtime than usual. I only had 12 teams in my bracket as opposed to the standard 16 so my Saturday ended at 4 p.m. as opposed to 6:30 p.m. This allowed me to watch my brother’s Saturday night game but more on that tomorrow. Anyway, in 6 years I had never had the chance to watch a Hoopfest game as purely a spectator so that was a nice little treat.

Paige got to enjoy Hoopfest with me this year.

Paige got to enjoy Hoopfest with me this year.

In the end, a team called Me and My Three Sons won my bracket. They went undefeated and blew out their opponent in the championship game. I can go into the Hoopfest offseason with a great taste in my mouth and great anticipation for Hoopfest 2014. Thank you Spokane for always putting on such a great event. Don’t Blink.

Hoopfest 2012: Basketbrawl

*Originally published on July 4, 2012.

This past weekend I completed my fifth consecutive year as a court monitor for the world’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament, Hoopfest. This particular year the tournament was the largest ever as over 7,000 teams took to the streets of Spokane to play some ball. Far and away, Hoopfest 2012 will go down as my most challenging year.

One thing I love about court monitoring is that you get a different experience each year. Different brackets, different ages, different street locations, different weather, and different situations factor in to making sure that one tournament will be completely different from another tournament. My first four years I definitely got a unique taste each time. However, while each year presented me with a new experience and new stories, one thing stayed constant: I had zero problems. I was able to maintain control, avoid any ugly incidents, and keep all teams eligible. Well, my unblemished record took a bit of a hit this year.

Hoopfest 2012: This was my fifth consecutive year as a court monitor for Hoopfest.

On Friday night I learned that I got assigned an adult male court….well, sort of.  My bracket consisted of 17-18 year old boys, some still in high school, others just graduated. I welcomed this assignment. For many people, this age is the pinnacle of athletic careers. I knew competition would be intense and the desire to win would be high. This appealed to me. I love monitoring games when teams go at each other tooth and nail, doing whatever they can to advance in the bracket. However, I think I got a little more than what I bargained for.

Hoopfest 2012: My brother and I at Hoopfest.

My home for the weekend was the KXLY4 HD #1 court on Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard. This particular court was an end court so instead of another court directly in back of my court, I had empty space, thus allowing for fans to crowd around that area. Anyway, the early morning games went well except for one weird oddity. Maybe as a sign to me that this would be no regular Hoopfest, during one of the first games a drunk transient wandered onto my court and stood inside the two-point arc. Incensed, I told the guy to get off the court. He said no. Again, I told him to get off the court. He said no again. After telling him that I was going to get the cops he stepped behind the two point line (still on the court) and slurred “I’m behind the line now.” Just as he said that I saw my court marshal out of the corner of my eye and noticed that he had just realized the situation. As I went to go meet him, the transient left the court. Several other court marshals and rapid response members followed him in hot pursuit.

The actual play that morning went exactly how I thought it would go. Games for the most part were hotly contested and the competitive level was high, but nothing got out of hand. By the time the 12:30pm game came around, things started to escalate a little. In the first winners bracket game of the tournament, two teams were going at it the whole twenty-five minutes. Trash talk, hard fouls, and some pushing and shoving entered the picture. Towards the end of the game, I was forced to call an intentional foul. After that, everyone seemed to calm down a little bit and the game finally came to an end. I ventured over to the scorer’s table to do the necessary paperwork for the completed game. As  my head was turned from the players I received an urgent alert from my cousin to turn around. As I threw my head back I saw a terrible sight. No less than six or seven people were engaged in a fight. Haymakers were being thrown, people were screaming, and randos were starting to rush over. The number of people started to snowball and the situation got ugly. Remember how I said there was open space behind my court? The brawl had spilled out into the open area. At least twenty people were involved. My court marshal arrived quickly on the scene and radioed for all the help possible. We had multiple court marshals, several rapid response members, and quite a few Spokane police officers doing what they could to break the mess up. By the time order was restored there were bloody faces, ripped shirts, and numerous upset people. What happened was after the game finished, a fan said something to a player on the losing team and that player went after the fan. The team that instigated the brawl was disqualified from the tournament on the spot.

Hoopfest 2012: This picture was taken literally seconds before the first brawl broke out behind me.

I had never presided over such a melee before at Hoopfest. After giving my statement to a high ranking Hoopfest official, I got the next game going. The following game went well and I decided that the earlier fight was just a fluke, something everyone goes through if you volunteer at Hoopfest long enough. Unfortunately, it was not a fluke. At the 1:30pm game, another winner’s bracket matchup, another fiery situation had developed. Two teams from local area high schools were facing off. The teams had history with each other in other sports and they both wanted to win the game. One of the teams brought a very large cheering section with them. The empty space behind my court was no longer empty…it was packed with seventeen and eighteen year old supporters of one of the teams. While they were supporters of the one team, they were more like haters of the other team. The fans kept heckling and baiting the other team, one player in particular. As a court monitor you can try to control a situation as intently as possible but when the crowd is so large and when they are in back of you, it is hard to regulate completely. Anyway, a member of the crowd finally said something that really got to the targeted player and it was game over from there. The player walked over to the fan, pushing me aside as I tried to step between the two (this was a huge athlete), and cold clocked the heckler. Chaos ensued.

Once again blows were exchanged by multiple people. The player who instigated the fight was completely out of control. Someone from the crowd took the player down to the ground and then, I kid you not, some kid who was well over 300 pounds fell on the player, securing the peace. Court marshals and rapid response members separated everyone and I was given the decision on whether to let the game continue or to just call it right then and there. I decided to let the game continue. The player who crossed the player/fan boundary and punched the fan was ejected for the rest of the tournament.

The rest of Saturday went by without a hitch. Many of the players on the other teams saw the previous brawls and did not want to repeat any of that behavior. The late afternoon games went without incident but I still drove home that night feeling a little down about what all had happened that day on my court. An awesome BBQ with my brother and his team, some cold beer, and great conversation that night helped to remove some of that earlier feeling and left me rejuvenated for Sunday.

A delicious Saturday night BBQ was just what I needed.

While Saturday was characterized by brawls, Sunday was defined by disqualifications. Here is the thing: When you fill out your Hoopfest registration packet, you must be honest. When you arrive at Hoopfest, your team must reflect all of the info from when you signed up back in March. If there is even the smallest inaccuracy, opposing players will pounce on it and push for consequences. This happened on Sunday. The DQs started early. One of the teams that still remained in the winner’s bracket had a couple players that looked like they were comfortably over six feet (the bracket was 5’10” and under). The success of the team drew a complaint from a player. So, after the team had won its opening game on Sunday to come just one win away from the championship game, we measured one of the kids and sure enough he did not meet the height limit. The team was immediately disqualified.

A couple games later, another team was disqualified because they had a player sign in who was not on the registered roster. Then, a couple more games later, the fourth team of my bracket was disqualified because they had a player who was signing in as a registered player on the team but the only problem was that he was not that registered player. With all of these disqualifications the aftermath sucked as all DQ’d teams were very upset and voiced their displeasure on the court for everyone to see/hear. I hate disqualifying any team. I hate seeing their weekend ruined, their entry money wasted, and their fans/family disappointed. But when an opposing player brings up a complaint, you have to investigate it and follow the Hoopfest rules. Please, register your team honestly and then uphold that same team for the whole tournament.

Hoopfest 2012: Court marshalls (red shirts) and rapid response members (blue shirts) gave me great support.

So besides all of the disqualifications that resulted in multiple forfeits, some basketball was still played on Sunday. In what couldn’t be any more fitting, the team that won my bracket, the Royal Knights, was one of the few teams that never found themselves in any controversy the whole weekend. They never fought, never had a question raised about their eligibility, never complained/petitioned against another team, never had any player pushing the height limit, and never gave me one reason to dislike them.  In a weekend that saw a quarter of my bracket get disqualified and multiple unsportsmanlike infractions occur, it served as a little bit of justice that a hard playing team like the Royal Knights took home the champion t-shirts.

Hoopfest 2012: Myself with my bracket champions, the Royal Knights.

Players and spectators asked me all weekend long if I enjoyed being in the middle of the action on such a crazy court. My simple answer was no. When I am responsible for running the show I find no joy in watching fights break out and ejecting teams from the tournament. So while I was disappointed in the antics that occurred on my court during Hoopfest 2012 I will just learn from the experience. Some things I could have controlled better and some things were completely out of my hands. I developed a whole new sense of respect for my court marshal, Kevin, and the rest of the Hoopfest court marshals and rapid response members. They had my back every single step of the way and supported me throughout the whole tournament.  Through this experience I feel like I became a better court monitor and my passion and love for Hoopfest never waivered. Let’s get the next 360+ days over with fast, I am ready for Hoopfest 2013! Don’t Blink.

Bring On Hoopfest 2012!

*Originally published on June 29, 2012.

Finally! My favorite weekend every summer, Hoopfest, has arrived. In less than twelve hours I will be on the streets of downtown Spokane as I serve as a court monitor for my fifth consecutive year. Ask yourself, have you ever played in or watched a community 3-on-3 basketball tournament? Secondly, ask yourself, have you ever played in Hoopfest? If you answered “yes” and then “no,” I sadly have to inform you that you have never truly played in or watched a community 3-on-3 basketball tournament before. Spokane Hoopfest is a basketball event on steroids. Nothing compares…nothing even comes close. This year more than 7,000 teams will participate in the event and I can’t wait.

Tomorrow I will monitor twenty games with the first one starting at 8am and the last one ending at around 7pm. It is a long, but very fun, day. I arrived in Spokane about two hours ago. My parents are hosting my brother, his girlfriend, and his three Hoopfest teammates who make up the “SlumpBusters.” Along with them, I also have several relatives who are also staying with us as they will participate in the tournament as well. Not only is my parents’ residence filled with lots of people right now, it is also filled with tons of excitement. And while we might be overindulging a little too much on the beer and pizza at the moment, you can rest assured that all of us will be ready to go by tomorrow morning.

Although Hoopfest is by leaps and bounds the best 3-on-3 basketball tournament on the planet, they still decided to step it up this year. The game ball is the coolest version yet, the court monitor shirts are dri-fit, and the complimentary shoes each court monitor receives for volunteering are sick. Adding to the prospect that this will be the best Hoopfest yet, the weather forecast is absolutely perfect. Tomorrow calls for a high temperature of 82 degrees while Sunday is predicted to reach 78 degrees. This is ideal weather for the players, comfortable weather for court monitors, and great weather for girls to dress in whatever “cute” outfit they feel like. Bring it on.

My 2012 Hoopfest court monitor dri-fit shirt

If you are in Spokane this weekend and will be downtown, PLEASE stop by my court and say hi. I am monitoring an adult male court on Washington and Spokane Falls Boulevard. My court name is KXLY4 HD #1. Come bring me an energy drink (sugar free please) or stop by just to heckle me. If you are too busy watching other games to make it by my court, text me later and I will invite you over to my parents’ house for our big Saturday night Hoopfest BBQ. Remember to use the hashtag of #SpokaneHoopfest for all of your Tweets and Instagram photos.

Hoopfest 2012: The official game ball and my court monitor Nike shoes.

Let the fun begin! Good luck to everyone participating in some capacity in Hoopfest 2012! Hello again to all of my Spokane buds and welcome to all of my Montana friends who have traveled west for this weekend. Have a wonderful couple days in the Lilac City, it does not get much better than this. Don’t Blink.