The Capital Classic is so much history now.

The college recruiters have returned to campus with visions of Albert King and Eugene Banks dancing on the courts of their imaginations. The players, we hope, are back in school, biding time until the senior prom and final exams.

CBS has itself a filler for between halves of Sunday's NBA game, when it can show a slam-dunking contest featuring the nation's top high school stars. And Children's Hospital is eagerly awaiting a check somewhere in the neighborhood of $12,000 from the sponsors.

And yet, a sour taste lingers from this fourth annual all-star game matching a team of superstars from the rest of the country against a team of local heroes.

We have no complaints about the ragged play, the questionable officiating or the lopsided final score (11292 U.S. No, we are far more concerned with exploitation of 17-year-olds in the name of wholesome and healthy competition and the enjoyment of 16,048 spectators at Capital Centre.

Is it wholesome and healthy to pull 13 young men out of school for a week, fly them first-class from Any-where, U.S.A., to Washington, and ply them with T-shirts, jackets, equipment bags, trophies, sirloins and speeches?

Is it wholesome and healthy to further pump up already enlarged egoes by allowing the creme de la creme of America's coaches to fawn and drool during three days of practice?

Is it wholesome and healthy to swell heads even larger by a series of lavish 45-second prega introductions that cite every statistical accomplishment of each player save the most important -- college board scores and grade-point averages?

It is wholesome and healthy to stage a slam-dunking contest at halftime the sole purpose of which seemed to be to provide CBS with a free feature between commercials?

Yes, it was entertaining. But what if a player had ripped open his hand on a rim, had shattered a backboard, had landed the wrong way on a 17-year-old knee after a double-dip, 360-degree reverse dunk?

All of this doesn't happen only in Washington. Last night, several of the same players participated in the Dap per Dan all-star game in Pittsburgh. There are other big all-star games coming up in Louisville, Cleveland, Sharon, Pa., and Monticello, N.Y.

Competition to assure the participation of name players is becoming cutthroat, according to many college coaches, and quick-buck promoters are popping up faster than dandelions in May.

Many players spend the final three months of their senior year on the road, visiting college campuses or playing in one all-star game after another, picking up praise and prizes along the way.

The players say they enjoy the games because they give them a chance to perform against the best competition in the country. Funny, we thought they'd get all that and more in college.

The Capital Classic, because it is played at Capital Center and because of its corporate sponsor (McDonald's), is supposed to be a class event.

The organizers will tell you it's all for a good cause, that many of the players will get even more scholarship offers as a result of their participation, that the chance to come to the Nation's Capital is a meaningful educational experience.

We don't argue. But we also will tell you that considerable sums of money are changing hands. Capital Center will get 25 per cent of the approximate $85,000 gate, as well as concession and parking revenues.

The Sheraton Lanham will get another $6,000 for housing and feeding the participants. Several local public relations and advertising agencies will share some of the wealth, as will local newspapers, radio and television stations that carried the advertising.

But these games seem so unnecessary, particularly the ones with the large budgets, the fancy arenas and the gaudy rosters because we are still dealing with impressionable youngsters.

There will be plenty of time for these teen-agers -- if they're as good as we and they are told -- to dominate the Telscreens of America.