SportsProf

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Presumptuosness?

I read in one of my local newspapers that a certain high school athlete had chosen the college that she'll attend. She seems like a nice kid, goes to a good school, and she picked a prominent program. Sounds normal, right?

There's one twist, and it might well be normal today. She held a news conference to announce her decision. She's not the first to have done so, and she's not the last, but what really gives? Where's the humility? Where's the sense of "well, I'll just call them and let them know, and I'll also call the coaches whose offers I've declined to thank them for their offers and that's it"? Is it gone?

A press conference?

Or am I totally wrong? Is that what we want in our difference makers, our stars -- their ability to differentiate themselves above the rest, their ability to have confidence that they can make it no matter what -- in short, their ability to be stars. Stars, after all, act differently from the rest of us. What we like about them -- their ability to shine under pressure, their ability to want the ball and suppress their nerves as time is running out -- is great. What we don't like about them is if they develop airs as to how wonderful they are.

It is true that the modest don't get noticed, that the outstanding athletes must gravitate to where the best competition is to get noticed. That might mean swimming for a club team instead of your school's, playing in USTA tournaments instead of for your high school team, playing for both an AAU team and your high school team. It also might mean that you need those in your circle touting your talents to college coaches, whether you're Division I-caliber or not. After all, many kids who populate DIII teams got there because someone sent a letter or tapes to the coaches, who in turn decided that Elroy and Barney were what's needed to shore up a deficient offensive line or that Wilma and Jane were needed to help the swimming team out of its doldrums. And, yes, there are services that parents can pay for that help tout your kids to various colleges around the country. All of that goes on, and that's part of the "normal" recruiting process too.

But you don't see the would-be physics majors from Stuyvesant High School in New York or Bronx High School of Science holding press conferences to tell the world that the next Silicon Valley gazillionaire who could invent the next brilliant life-saving automated widget of the 21st century chose Cal Tech over MIT or Dartmouth over Columbia. No, that doesn't happen because we're more enthralled with someone who will go play for Roy Williams than someone who could end up inventing the two generations down the road EA Sports game that will help create a bunch of jobs and millions in value. In both cases, though, there's a chance that the kids won't like it at the schools they select, won't make it or won't finish for whatever reason. So much for the press conference; 18 year-olds are fickle.

I'll cast my vote against having high school athletes having press conferences. No, there shouldn't be a law, and, yes, it's well within any kid's right to hold a press conference. After all, they're just kids, they're just 17 or 18, and they aren't fully formed. My guess is that those who don't succeed will look back on the videotapes of the press conferences wistfully and somewhat embarrassed, contemplating how "out there" it was to command so much attention when, relatively speaking, they hadn't proved all that much in the world and that their toughest challenges were before them, not behind them.

Norman Dale, the basketball coach in "Hoosiers", had an interesting exchange with Barbara Hersehey's character, the fellow school teacher, asking whether it was wrong for a kid to be treated like a god, even if only for a short time, as most kids would die for that opportunity.

Apparently, most kids, if given the opportunity, would.

Is it wrong? That's very hard to say.

But the feeling isn't real, and it doesn't last forever.

And hopefully it doesn't represent the peak in one's life.

2 Comments:

Blogger jerseyrules said...

Thst's because that certain young lady,picked a "school" that has a media following, rivaling the Yankees. I personally think that it is a sad commentary on the state of high school athletics that these star athletes, announce their college decisions at a press conference or better yet on live tv, as a recruit in NYC, did on the local MSG network.

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what's "sad" about the commentary in that, well, look at u: We think sports are important and interesting enough to blog about. Important enough to post a comment TO a blog.

We are who we are -- we want to know, WE want the best players, WE want the press coverage to show up the other schools who didn't get this player.... We moan and groan and yet do nothing about it...

I'm in education. And I love sports. I don't read any blogs about education (per se). I do about sports. As one AAU coach said to me, "If my parents got on their kid's teachers the way the got on me when I put their kids in the wrong defense?.... we'd have no problems in education.

5:17 PM  

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