Monday, March 01, 2010
College sports recruiting is out of control
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, college recruiting, especially in football, seemed to be out of control. In an attempt to control the recruiting, the NCAA handed down stiff sanctions, banning schools from television appearances, bowl games, and conference championships.
Now, that money in all college sports, not only football, is so big, such sanctions do not seem possible. Can anyone really imagine a major conference turning down big money from the likes of ESPN to televise a game involving one of the conference’s teams?
While that is bad enough, what is really crazy with college sports recruiting is how young it starts and the so called “showcase” tournaments that go on.
Over the past few weeks, published reports have the University of South Carolina baseball team offering a scholarship to a 14 year old high school freshman from Wando who has never played the game of baseball at the varsity level. On the West Coast, Southern California Head Football Coach Lane Kiffen offered a 13 year old quarterback from Delaware a scholarship. How anyone thinks that a 13 year old or 14 year old has the maturity to make such a decision is beyond VUI. And, we are Gamecocks fans to the core.
If such seems insane, consider what goes on in youth sports, especially in the sports of baseball and basketball. So called “showcase” travel teams are made up of talented children that play in tournaments for college coaches and pro scouts to watch. The coaches of those “showcase” teams find themselves paid by big advertisers and have big time college tickets pressed into their hands. Indeed, even high school coaches in SC enjoy free passes to major college sporting events.
If a thousand years from now, archaeologists were to find one of the recruiting newsletters that are published, they would likely conclude that our society worshipped athletically talented children to the point of obsession.
About thirty or so years ago, the NCAA was right to act to try to stop colleges from paying for cars and paying off mortgages and offering cash payments for big time recruits. Now, there is another problem. Coaches, parents, and fans are starting to go after kids at the youngest of ages. People who do not really care about the kids are gaining from those kids talents.
The NCAA can put a stop to all of it. No young athlete should be contacted by a college in any sport until that athlete is a senior in high school. No college coach or scout should be allowed to attend and recruit at so called “showcase” tournaments or games. No high school coach or teacher should be given free tickets to college athletics events.
Some will say such proposals go too far. Fair enough. But, if middle school and JV players are being recruited, is not there something lost about sports that goes far beyond whether or not our favorite college lands the big recruit? Are we so selfish in wanting our college team to win that we condone the obsession with children in sports? Is that who we really are as a society?
Think about it, people. The obsession with young people in athletics has went too far.