Jim Harris: Prep All-Star Games Need More Than Change of Locale

by Jim Harris  on Monday, Jun. 11, 2012 2:57 pm  

The Arkansas High School All-Star football game will return to Conway next year, but the AAA, the state's coaches and other administrators should consider addressing a change of date for the game. (Photo by Jim Harris)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Moving the East-West High School All-Star Game to Conway beginning next year should not be the only step the Arkansas Activities Association, the state’s coaches and administrators make with the game.

Conway and the University of Central Arkansas’ Estes Stadium regained the game — where it never should have left. Fayetteville High School, through the Fayetteville Visitors Bureau, bid on the games again — as much as it had in past years, according to the AAA — but it fell short of Conway's offering. While the Arkansas High School Coaches Association and the AAA could have returned the All-Star Week Fayetteville for 2013-17, the folks in Conway did "an excellent job" in promoting Conway and Central Arkansas, we're told.

Since their beginning in the 1950s, the All-Star football and basketball games have been staged together — well, the athletes have been housed together, but the games sometimes were held at various sites. At one time, the AAA held two nights of basketball games at different sites.

Basketball can work that way. They can play it five nights a week, in a different city, if they so choose.

Football is a different animal, and it’s become more difficult to bring the state’s best players together for an all-star game. When the game was first created, it was held in the scorching early evening heat of August. Then it moved back to July as colleges began starting their preseason workouts earlier. Of late, it’s been held in June.

Why not move the All-Star football game to the Christmas holidays, where it would be best suited?

This could happen if the AAA and the coaches could get together and name their all-stars at the season’s conclusion, which for all but a couple of dozen teams occurs by Thanksgiving. A college could have housing availability at the end of the first semester, but the players wouldn’t necessarily need a full week or more to get acclimated to their teammates and reacquainted with the game. Most of the players would be fresh off being in “football shape” to compete in the game in December.

In the summer, many of the players are having to return to the practice field for the first time in months to rehearse formations and plays to provide a game worth watching. Some may be playing football for the last time. Some of those players plan to be competing on the NCAA Division I level in a matter of days after the all-star activities are over.

Others are all but forbidden by their future coaches to play in the All-Star Game. Let's just say it's suggested they find a way to miss it.

Again, more than a generation ago, college freshmen didn’t arrive on their campuses until August.

Now, reporting day is basically the first day of summer school, as freshmen are expected to get a leg up on their studies and also compete with their teammates in drills organized by the college upperclassmen.

If they are already attending summer school, most college coaches aren’t going to allow their players to take a week off of those classes to relocate to the All-Star site for practice now.



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