Equal play for equal pay, says this old basketball player

I’m no longer a dominating basketball player. I can’t say I deserve to play every minute of the game because I’m better than my teammates. I am, at 69, an average player in the Capital Athletic Club B league.

But I still want a decent amount of playing time, and I think I deserve it. Why? Because I’m an equal dues-paying member of the club, and I signed up for this activity. I want a good workout in a competitive team game. Why should I get less than other members?

I’ve been making my proposal for fair playing time to club officials for months, and the issue is coming to a head this week as preparations begin for the club’s summer league play. Basketball commissioner Bruce Coolidge and club manager Rick Leonard have assured me the matter will be taken up with the league’s advisory board. They declined my offer to address the board personally.

Frankly, I’m surprised club officials haven’t already adopted my proposal – or a compromise version calling for a minimum 20 minutes of playing time for all players. Current rules call for a measly minimum of 10 minutes. Club officials are well aware of all the griping that goes on about lack of playing time, some of it intensified by team captains who indulge in favoritism, ageism and sexism. Why let this fester in a club that makes a lot of effort to keep members happy and loyal?

The equal-playing proposal is relatively modest, given that teams are limited to seven players chosen in a draft system. Each player would get 28 minutes in our 40-minute games. If a 20-minute minimum were established, captains could play their top five players 32 minutes. And, as often happens, teams are down one player, meaning more playing for everyone.

I see a lot of winners under this proposal and few losers. In this club setting, equal play for equal pay should be the governing rule.

Meanwhile, the draft for summer B league season is scheduled this week, and I’m sure there will be a concerted effort to break up the Bombers, my team in the winter league. We won the B league championship. After finishing second in the regular season, we knocked off the No. 1 team in the playoff championship game in April.  

The Bombers were notable for being the oldest team, by far, in the seven-team league, having an average age of 53. That’s about 15 years older than the league average. We also became known as a team that played rugged, suffocating defense game after game. We held our opponents in the championship game, the Renegades, a team with two of the league’s top scorers, to a modest 41 points.

The Bombers, who played most of the season with only six players, had two steady scorers in captain Bob Machado and Andrew Dyba, a rugged rebounder in Herb Stonebraker, a defensive specialist in Marte Castanos, and reliable role players in Gary Magana Sr. and myself. Our seventh player, Rich Henning, was lost early in the season because of a broken finger.

I should note that in the championship game, Mr. Castanos,  usually content to be a blue-collar defensive pest, ball stealer and all-around hustle player, overcame his reluctance to shoot and made a series of outside shots that seemed to demoralize the Renegades.





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