Saturday, February 01, 2014

Opinion: H.S. Sports Now Win-At-Any-Cost

by Dan Gougherty
Elk Grove News. Net

Like most people in our culture, I am interested in sports and have my favorite professional and college teams. Although I would consider myself a fair-weather fan, or more accurately someone who gets tuned-in when the playoffs start, I am still amazed at how deep sports is ingrained in our culture.
I was reminded of this earlier this week when I read on this site, with some amazement, about the revelations that two of our Elk Grove-area high schools were sanctioned for recruiting violations. Substitute Cosumnes Oaks and Sheldon High with USC or Ohio State, or pick the NCAA-sanctioned college of your choice, and the stories become almost interchangeable.

Has the win-at-any-cost mentality that is pervasive in every aspect of American professional sports, big time college sports, business and politics finally infiltrated the next level of amateur sports, high school athletics? Are our high schools now becoming nothing more than a further extension of de-facto farm leagues already firmly established on the college level?
I can’t help but think that the coaches, athletes, the parents and maybe even the school administrators had some knowledge they were breaking the rules, yet decided in some sort of cost-risk analysis the potential benefits outweighed the risk. We after all live in a society where the 5,000 or so professional athletes in the four major American sports can make millions of dollars and in some case be worshipped like gods.

Even though the odds are long, I can’t help but think that some parent of a talented kid will be willing to ignore the rules on the belief their kid is the next LeBron James. Or worse, some high school coach will recruit the best players at any cost, especially to the young athletes used for the coaches purposes, hoping it will make them the next Nick Sabin?

Sadly this win-at-any-cost mentality has seemingly gained a strong foothold in our high school athletic departments and is probably here to stay.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I think you are right! I truly think that they are only scratching the surface and some of these coaches have gotten so good at manipulating the system that it must now come back to us as parents to do the right thing. Obviously open enrollment opens several doors for student athletes and for some it is merely an opportunity to use the system to its advantage. I long for the days when you actually had to live in the community that you go to school in. It takes away a sense of pride in my opinion. I was recently reminded that the beg rivalry in our area was the Galt/Elk Grove football game that started the season off every year. Elk Groves growing population slowly but surely killed that rivalry. I often wonder why teachers from time to time allow certain things to go on that aren't above board? Why make it easy on a student to pass a class just because he can dunk a basketball or hit a baseball or throw a football? Are they being pressured by coaches, parents, or even the kids? In years past we have seen professional athletes have lots of problems in society as well as on the field of play. I wonder when they were started on that path?

Anonymous said...

Dan Gaugherty makes some great points in his opinion piece, as does "Anonymous" in his/her comments, such as the recent cases with Sheldon and CO "scratching the surface" of the bigger problem and longing for the days when you "had to live in the community that you go to school in." The first thing the district can do is scrap open enrollment. Then, they can lean on outside coaches who are trying to influence parents to send little Johnny to whatever school to play this particular sport. Then, the district can lean on the coaching staffs and administrations at each local school to make sure they're doing their jobs (and earning their money) by stopping this from happening before it becomes the problem we now have before us. High school sports is so much better when all schools experience their ups and downs (and learn from each) instead of holier-than-thou (and lazy) parents using a loophole in the system to get their kid into a particular program just because it wins now and they can get their personal jollies. It also renders all the constant winning of league and section championships as less than significant and lacking in respect since they play with a reloaded stacked deck each year. The kids are just pawns in all this. They don't make these decisions; they do what they're told to do. It's the moms and dads that need to be brought under control.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately - the gamble taken by school administrators and coaches - and yes parents - hurt the person(s) they were supposedly trying to promote and help - the kids. Not the first time for Sheldon which had multiple kids transfer out and miss their Senior year due to the previous incidents which were swept away. The staff including AD needs to educated was one of the Plans of Correction - please - it us under that person's leadership that these things and more have been occurring and stressing again - Who has been hurt the most: the students.