It shouldn't be surprising that there are always tales about someone scoring 100 points in a summer league basketball game.
On many a sultry summer evening in hotbox public school gyms, a scorekeeper will more than likely get caught up in the flow of a free-wheeling, defenseless game and add a basket or four to a player's total. But who cares? In summer league, the final score isn't usually that important, unless you're counting double pumps, slam dunks or blind behind-the-back passes.
The summer season is about to start again, and avid fans will need to plan their evenings accordingly to catch the action in the 11 leagues--nine boys and two girls--operating seven days a week.
The Jelleff League in Northwest Washington was once the only show in town. Now because of the growth of summer basketball, the competition for the top teams is so furious that area coaches often carry football-type squads and divvy them up so they can participate in more than one league.
"I think so many leagues have hurt the city," said Walter Hargrow, the Jelleff League director. "You can't get to see everyone. The talent is split up and you don't know where the best players will play one night or the next. We filled our 22-team quota up quick, though, and for the first time, we have a true representative Washington-area league. We're not basically loaded up with strictly D.C. teams."
Eddie Saahb, the director of the Friends League, said the growing number of leagues doesn't hurt the more established ones because of the different levels of play.
"I tried to get the best teams, the teams ranked in the area and with the top players," he said. "I think we got some of the better teams for next year. We had a waiting list of 11 teams who wanted to get in. I got teams from every jurisdiction because I wanted a variety of teams. I even started a jayvee league so we wouldn't miss out on the younger players."
Most leagues play three to four games a night Monday through Friday. The Kenner League is mainly for college and adult players (high school seniors are eligible). The Urban Coalition also sponsors a pro adult league, a women's league and a boys' high school league.
Also, the Coalition and Kenner leagues operate Friday through Sunday. The Jelleff and Sidwell Friends leagues are the only two that have high school teams from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and the private schools. The leagues charge franchise fees ranging from $200 to $350, the money going toward officials and awards.
"The officials' fees have gone up so you have to charge a little more to break even," Saahb said. "You don't make any money. You just try to run a good league and see some of the best players in the area during the summer."