The All Canada Classic is tipping off today at the ACC in Toronto for the 10th time but why is it the only national high school game of it's kind? Shouldn't there be more with the successes of guys like Joseph and Thompson? Find out what we think about it here ...
Today is a big day for Canadian high school basketball. Today at the ACC the All Canada Classic, the longest and only continuously running national high school all star game of its kind will be taking place for the tenth time. I’ve been looking forward to it for a few months now and it’s going to be a great game for sure.
But recently I got to thinking, "why is there only one such event in this country?" Really people, why is there only one event of this type in Canada?
We have many talented players at the high school level in this country. Too many it seems at times and I go through the list of participants in the All Canada Classic rosters it seems like we’ve barely even scratched the surface. You can pick up your local newspaper or check out the online sports section and find stories on players on a regular basis. From coast to coast, city to city, ‘hood to ‘hood I’m sure that every place has a player that is off the chain that everybody else outside the area code probably hasn’t even heard of yet. These ones would far outnumber the few that are recognized regionally let alone nationally.
So then again the question remains: why is there only one event like this?
I was recently talking with the All Canada Game organizer Wayne Dawkins and he made two points that struck a chord with me. The first was that there really is a need to celebrate our athletes here. If you look at our neighbors to the south, there are several major national high school basketball events. You only need to look at the McDonald’s All America Game and the Jordan Brand Classic. That’s one more event than we have here in Canada and there are more, though slightly less prestigious, national games like them that garner similar caliber players like the Derby Classic in Lexington, KY. All games, despite the names or sponsors affiliated with it, doing the same thing: celebrating young talent. There are multiple events that players can be chosen to and because there are a few of them, a lot more players outside the top 24 let’s say can get a chance to bask in the limelight.
The second thing point that he made, which plays into my last sentence is that we have so much talent here that we could probably fill different rosters with different players. Dawkins has made a point to say that he thought we could have easily done so with the available players that could have made the All Canada Game rosters and I would think he’s absolutely right. If you go through the boys’ side, you’ll notice a couple of absences: Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph are the big ones missing. They have played in their two high school all star games already so the NCAA won’t allow them to play in any more. But even without those two obviously great players there is still a lot of star power in Myck Kabongo, Kevin Pangos, Duane Notice and Julian Clarke. There are a lot of big names on the each side with a few that aren’t there. Just think about how many players didn’t make this list but could have?
So again I ask, "Why is there only one event like this in Canada?"
I think that basketball has seen a steady growth in popularity in the Great White North: It’s an easy game to play, there aren’t much in the way of costs to play it and you only need two guys to get a game going. All that coupled with the media coverage that the NBA gets in North America and the internet generation’s love of real time info and video have all served to make basketball a fast growing sport among our younger generation. We are, as a country, getting better at instructing and nurturing the skills and love of the game in our youth and the results are there: players being recognized as All Americans and many others are earning scholarships to NCAA schools. Having more events like the All Canada Game would be another way of showing our players that you will be recognized for the work you put in here. We know that these kids are out there, all we need now is more platforms for them. It not only helps to build the game but it a supportive culture for the game showing that we, the basketball fans, are paying attention to these kids and that we appreciate all of them for their efforts. Is that so hard to really do? To tell a kid that their hard work is appreciated and that it has a hope of being recognized on a national level with the "stars"?
So now I’ll rephrase my question: When will there be more than one event like this in Canada?
If you're in Toronto today you can check out the All Canada Classic at the ACC starting at 4pm with the girls game tipping off at 5pm and the boys at 8pm. If you can be there check out the Can Ball Report on Twitter @CanBallReport for our live Tweet feed thoughout the event.