The seventh annual McDonald's Capital Classic Thursday night was not much fun, for either the fans or the players. Especially for those athletes who spent much of the evening watching instead of playing.
In an all-star game in which the final score means very little, why should one player be on the court longer than another?
True, most of the 15,296 in the stands came to see such local stars as Earl Jones, Tom Sluby and Arnie Russell, and they were not disappointed. Those three had 46 points and 27 rebounds to lead the local team to an uninspiring 84-81 victory over an overrated U.S. team.
But what about the other players? While Sluby was playing 31 minutes and Jones 29, five other members of the local team were logging 10 minutes or less. Each member of the U.s. team played a minimum of 13 minutes.
"That's one reason these games are not sanctioned by the national (high school) federation," said Otto Jordan, Interhigh League athletic director. "No one is quite sure how these kids are picked, no one sets up guidelines as to how long kids should play and no one is 100 percent sure all of these games are for charitable purposes.
"And the youngsters miss school.Athletics is one-half of education, not a substitute for it. The NCAA was aware of these problems, that's why they put in the postseason two-game limit next year."
In the last few "Classics," the worst injustices seem to have been done to the players in the "scholarship" game, the pareliminary affair. Most of the participants are not highly recruited and the game supposedly offers one final shot at impressing the dozens of college coaches who usually attend.
So, in the 1979 game, eight of the 24 players in the preliminary played 11 minutes or less. Two of them had only six minutes each. One can hardly demonstrate his skills from a sitting position.
That happens even though quarters have been lengthened from eight to 10 minutes for the purpose of giving the players extra exposure.
Actually, there is a rule that each boy must play a minimum of 10 minutes. But nobody follows it.
"These games are a joke," said the father of a promising player who probably will participate at Capital Centre next year. "I came here Thursday to see some of the other players I read about, too. No one cares who wins. If the game was 100-99 and every kind saw equal time, not one soul would leave here unhappy. If a kid makes this team, he should play."
Just as the referee stops the game at four-minute intervals for TV commercial breaks, why can't a time-keeper tap the coaches on the shoulder and announce, "Time's up."
"I don't think a coach should be blamed," said Dunbar Coach Joe Dean Davidson. "He can get wrapped in the game and time will go by. Some better guidelines should be set up to see that each player gets equal time."
Many of the U.S. all stars last year were highly incensed because they felt they were not treated fairly. Four, including Sid Gree, now at Nevada Las-Vegas, played 11 minutes or less. On the other hand, five players logged 21 minutes or more.
In this year's preliminary game, five boys played 12 minutes or less while eight were on the court for at least 20. One player, Tom Meekins of Mackin, got to play only because De Matha's Ronnie Everhart had several scholarship offers and consented to give his spot. Meekins played 10 minutes. s
Another player extremely disappointed was McKinley all-met Jan Pannell. The 6-foot guard, who was on the local team in the Classic, played only nine minutes. He took only one shot and was credited with one rebound and two turnovers.
"I don't have a scholarship yet and I was hoping to show the coaches I can play," Pannell said. "I practiced at the shooting guard spot all week, then was sent in at the point. I didn't complain because I wanted to play. I was disappointed I didn't play that long. A few of the other players weren't very happy either.
"I guess the bright spot was that we did win."