Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A sixth-grader with a basketball future - or not

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.


Aimeepalooza said...

Ranking a child this age is absurd. I mean, kids grow, change, get injured, stop growing...stupid. A pointless thing. We have no idea how these kids will turn out in the future. And, what does it do to them being ranked this young?

Kevin Hunt said...

I loved the response of the Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt in that NY Times article, saying that if projections of HS seniors are already off-base, there's no point in ranking middle school kids.

Thanks for covering this in your blog, Mark. I posted some more of my thoughts here: http://tinyurl.com/blr2h4