In today's New York Times, Adam Himmelsbach writes about the inexact and arguably destructive practice of national rankings of sixth-grade basketball players. There are a number of rating services in the business of evaluating players this young. It is a business, and apparently a profitable one, as parents, coaches and, no doubt, the kids being written about subscribe to these services. Not surprisingly, there seems little attention paid to the effect on the children being heralded.
These two paragraphs from Himmelsbach's piece address the issue squarely:
"The players can stop improving, stop caring or stop growing. They can become irrelevant as college prospects before they reach high school, raising questions of whether they should be rated at all.
“To rank a boy at that age sets up a dynamic of possible failure,” said Dr. Ellen Braaten, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School. “I think it’s a tremendous amount of pressure to put on a child. Some are resilient, but there’s definitely the potential for others to develop depression or anxiety disorders.”
There doesn't seem to be any turning back on turning sixth-grade kids into miniature pros. Or reason to hope that next year the bar won't be lowered to fifth grade.