The 11th annual All Canada Classic featured some of the best young basketball talent that Canada has to offer they didn't disappoint. The games were exciting and had many highlights and surprising moments but so few people were there to take it in. Can Ball Ray gives his two cents on what he thinks the reason for this is ...
Last night was the 11th annual All Canada Classic, or Rumble in the T-Dot, and of course Can Ball Ray was there for the festivities. If you were following my Twitter timeline last night, reading it sometime after the fact or not at all, just know that the game was you typical high school all star game.
The only difference was that it was in Canada and for Canadian ballers and it was as good as it gets. Both the ladies and the boys played hard despite what the scores indicated and it was very competitive. You could see that there was obvious talent on the floor and they were playing with heart and to win. Both ladies and boys put on very good shows and the scores don't truly give the games justice. It was exciting even during the times I thought it wasn't when I was living in the moment.
So why then did I leave the game with a somewhat empty feeling?
Here's why: It was because even now with the many players that have succeeded at the highest levels, with so much exposure, supposed fans and participation levels at an all time high, the event did not draw out as many people as it should have.
Now am not placing fault at all with Wayne Dawkins and his people at PHASE 1 who organized the event. It's is strictly out of their control. They have done all that they can to spread the word of this great event using all their available avenues and they did provide a great event. My beef will never be with them. My beef is with the Canadian basketball community in general.
Since forever, I always hear/see/read about people who love this game. So where were these people who love the game so much? Where were all the people who are quick to yell out support an event like this but rarely show up?
Before I do that let me digress a little here ...
When I was a kid in high school in Toronto (Scarborough to be exact), I played the game a little for my school team. I wasn't the player I am today (which isn't saying a whole lot since I'm older and broken down a little) but I always thought that it would be cool to have the best players all in one game going head to head. I would hear about a guy from the west end of Toronto named Dean Labayen (1997-98 CIS Rookie of the Year) or a guy from the east named Jamaal Magliore (you should know his name) or some other guy. So me and my friends would travel all over the city to watch these guys in action when we could or hope that they show up at an open gym in Malvern late at night. Before the internet and YouTube we would do these things because we loved the game and wanted to see the best players we could. Putting the faces to the deeds we would hear about from other players was like unearthing treasure. It was almost euphoric. It's those times in my older age now that I can reflect on and talk about with younger kids. Me, my friends and countless others were supporting the game and the players we all looked up to at the most basic levels by doing this. We were connecting on the most intimate way with the player and the game that we loved. We were forming a bond between ballers, if you will, that cemented us to the fabric of the culture.
Fast forward to now ...
I think last night's event is a prime example of what seems to be symptomatic of our current basketball culture. The internet has created a generation where information is at an all time availability that everything anyone could want to know about is at your finigertips. The connections that we make over fibre optic wires, though very convenient for our busy everyday lives, is not the same as being there in person to soak it all in. The atmosphere, the people, the game itself, we all should look to be apart of this event, and others like it, to help foster the community that this sport lives in. This connecting to the game personally is what builds that bond within us as fans and players and as a collective.
Now I'm not saying to stop your lives and get to every event on the calender. That's just not possible for anyone. But I am saying that we should be supporting these events as best we can at every level and the best way is to show up.
There were a lot of empty seats in the Air Canada Centre last night but should there really be that many? For the only national (insert your quip here) high school all star event?
I've heard the complaints and snide comments in the past for anything I've been to that was Canadian basketball related, by so-called Canadian basketball fans no less, so I have to ask if that is the solution to fixing this disconnect?
Of course it isn't.
The only way to fix this is to find a way to connect with the players and people who are helping to cultivating the game be it administrators, coaches or even your fellow fan. We need to grow this community of ours at the local levels and upwards to help foster these players that we are all hoping will be successful. We can't expect anything to fix itself and need to actively participate by at the very least showing up. That is 90% of the problem solved by doing that.
If the game continues this way, not only will our best talent no longer have any game(s) to play but our talent may not even want to play anymore.