Friday, December 19, 2008

Recruiting stuff you couldn't make up

Josh Barr of the Washington Post has a wonderful piece (in a disturbing sort of way) on middle school football players and how some are selling themselves to top high school coaches. You couldn't make this stuff up.

Bill McGregor, football coach at DeMatha High School, a prep football power in suburban D.C., tells of speaking at a youth clinic and, days later, receiving DVDs from two seventh-graders interested in playing for DeMatha. McGregor laughs with the reporter as he recalls another kid, an eighth-grader, making a formal announcement that he's "committing" to play football for McGregor. As if he were a blue-chip high school senior committing to Oklahoma.

Barr writes: " "What are you committing to?" McGregor replied, retelling the story and chuckling at the thought that a middle schooler considered his future plans so noteworthy."

The Post story makes the point that public high schools refrain from recruiting middle school kids - openly, at least - because they can't. Such activity is banned by almost all state scholastic athletic associations. Private schools operate with far fewer controls. And so we have 12-year-olds showcasing their skills on DVD.

The behavior of the kids is curious and excessive, of course. But, as we know, this isn't a kid problem. It's a problem created (and perpetuated) by adults - coaches, athletic directors, parents, sanctimonious journalists.

Today's naive question: If we agree the system makes no sense - who's arguing this stuff is in the interest of adolescent boys? - why does it persist?

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