In hindsight, it’s pretty easy to say you would’ve said no to the tournament offer that fell apart for the Etiwanda boys basketball team, leaving the Eagles a tournament short this season.
Here is what happened. A guy approached Etiwanda boys basketball coach Dave Kleckner months ago, with this offer:
He would pay to send the Etiwanda team to Washington, D.C., taking care of transportation and lodging for a tournament scheduled to run the week after Christmas, called the Triple Threat Invitational. Entry fee? $250, which is very reasonable, even though there were only two guaranteed games. If it sounds too good to be true, that’s not necessarily the case. It’s not that unusual for shoe companies to pick up the tab to send marquee basketball teams (like Etiwanda) to tournaments across the country.
“I’ve never taken a team outside of California. I always figured there are enough great teams here to play,” Kleckner said. “I could get a friend or my brother to go to D.C. But for these kids, it was too great of an opportunity.”
The offers from the promoter kept coming, but plane tickets did not materialize, only empty promises. Even though he committed to the event, Kleckner was skeptical and told athletic director Dave Masucci not to send the check for the entry fee until plane tickets came. Then around Thanksgiving, the promoter stopped returning phone calls and Kleckner then knew his suspicions were right. Kleckner got a call from a coach in Texas that had also been duped by the promoter, wanting to know if Kleckner had heard from him. Of course, he hadn’t.
So, in the end, Etiwanda wasn’t out any money, but is now short on games. Kleckner is trying to find either a tournament or at least a couple of nonleague games to play next week to get closer to the maximum number allowed.
It doesn’t sound like Kleckner will accept any other offers like this any time soon, which is probably a good move. But the first time? It sounds to me like it was worth the risk. The problem is of course, there are legit offers out there. And Kleckner might be approached with a legit offer, only to say no because he was burned before.