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All-Star events provide fun stage for seniors

In the professional ranks, all-star games are often criticized by fans and media because of athletes' presumed "don't-care" attitude concerning the event. 

Whether it's players skipping the Pro Bowl or turning the NBA All-Star Game into a glorified dunk contest, the events come off more as obligations to the athletes than privileges.

But if you were at last night's Senior Basketball Classic, or if you happen to make it to either the baseball or football all-star games this weekend, my guess is you're not going to see much apathy or loafing.

Naturally, players don't want to get hurt during exhibitions, but there is a sense of fun and freedom to these games that you just won't find in most pro all-star events.

I had the chance to cover the football and baseball all-star games a year ago and remember the pomp and circumstance that filled the air. There were parents and fans from all around the area. Zach Hanna, quarterback from Lawton High, said it felt a bit strange knowing that people you did not know were cheering for you.

There is a feeling of showmanship in all-star games. Because the games do not count in any won-lost column, players generally have more freedom to do things they wouldn't normally be able to do in a regular-season game. 

In last year's Southwest Senior Bowl, Eisenhower's Mookie Douglas scored on an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. After officials told players they would be a bit more lax on penalizing celebrations, Douglas finished the last five or so yards with a dance that would've made Deion Sanders proud. 

Although they no longer have them, the Senior Hoops Classic used to have slam dunk and 3-point contests, a fun twist to add some flair to the night.

Another unique aspect of these games is they show show off the extraordinary versatility of these athletes. Nineteen local athletes will participate in more than one all-star game, with Apache's Jacob Flores going for the trifecta, playing the basketball, football and baseball games.

In these game, you often see the cream rise to the top. Over the years, great athletes who would go on to either college or pro careers have provided great performances in all-star games. 

The Lawton Constitution

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