The Penalty Box: Things That Are Broken, Part 3

June 18, 2024 at 8:00 a.m.


This is the final episode of my three-part series on things in sports that are broken and desperately need fixing.
I repeat what I said at the beginning—this is not an all-inclusive list. There are many more things that I didn’t have time and space to put in here.
These are just the biggest things that need repair.
Summer youth sports are a mess.
Now, saying that will immediately send the hair on the back of some of your necks into “attack” position. I understand.
We’re not talking about your local little league or your varsity coach’s summer basketball program.
But the lies that are propagated by those who operate “travel” sports organizations have been harmful to families and self-rewarding for those who have financially filled their pockets by telling them.
Now, I would be a fool to say that an individual player doesn’t benefit by playing with better competition during their offseason. Of course they do. Doing that will improve their game and make them better. But when they come back to their school team, how does that experience translate? There is a risk of bad habits being picked up playing for a summer coach who focuses on your offensive game and doesn’t care as much about your half-court defense and whether you block out or not.
Why? Their thought process is that offensive skill gets you noticed by college coaches. Colleges offering their summer players scholarships adds to their resume. That means more players will seek to be on their team, and they can pick and choose who they take for their roster.
And every time they add a player, they get paid.
The other half of the lie is that this is the only way to get a college to notice you.
The truth is, in 2024, there are literally dozens of ways to spread the news about a player to college coaches.
If you are good enough to play at the next level, a college will find you.
The Name, Image and Likeness chaos has reached high school sports.
31 states now have laws established by their state high school governing bodies that allow high school students to receive payment for being an athlete. The whole point of NIL is that athletes can get paid for video games using athletes names and jersey numbers and also for marketing campaigns by businesses where the players are spokespeople.
But how it’s evolved (very quickly, I might add) is that college players are getting paid for doing nothing. Colleges are collecting money and funneling it to players, and the bigger colleges with football programs are getting more money to spend on bringing in better athletes.
How in the wide world of sports are high schools going to be able to do that?
I can count on two hands the number of high schools in Indiana that could pull off that kind of power play. They are the biggest schools in the most affluent school corporations—Homestead, Carmel, Fishers…you get the picture.
And college sports are in a free-fall because of it.
You’ve read my thoughts about high schoolers being able transfer to other schools, and the proposal that the IHSAA is considering right now that would allow a family to transfer a player once in their four years without any scrutiny over the change of school.
In case you missed that column from a few weeks ago, the basics of the proposal would allow a student to transfer once after the conclusion of their freshman year without having to move to their new school district and without having to explain to anyone why they are changing schools.
We’ve already addressed this, and we are moving on from that today.
In the final analysis, the summary of this is that the concept of high school athletes being considered “student athletes” is in danger. The IHSAA’s positioning high school athletics as “education-based” is at stake with the way this all plays out.
I hope they get it right.
But, in the end, the truth is that there used to be a partnership between parents, their students and their schools. That partnership was the foundation of how students learned inside the classroom and how they accepted coaching outside of it.
But ask any teacher or coach right now, and that partnership is being shredded.
The respect level parents show teachers and coaches is evaporating, and that attitude is being translated to the children who are just mirroring the behavior their parents exhibit.
There isn’t a school corporation or a sports governing body that can do anything to stop that. We, as parents, must do better.
If we don’t, those unscrupulous summer coaches win, and then they actually do become the only way to get a college scholarship.
We can’t let that happen.

This is the final episode of my three-part series on things in sports that are broken and desperately need fixing.
I repeat what I said at the beginning—this is not an all-inclusive list. There are many more things that I didn’t have time and space to put in here.
These are just the biggest things that need repair.
Summer youth sports are a mess.
Now, saying that will immediately send the hair on the back of some of your necks into “attack” position. I understand.
We’re not talking about your local little league or your varsity coach’s summer basketball program.
But the lies that are propagated by those who operate “travel” sports organizations have been harmful to families and self-rewarding for those who have financially filled their pockets by telling them.
Now, I would be a fool to say that an individual player doesn’t benefit by playing with better competition during their offseason. Of course they do. Doing that will improve their game and make them better. But when they come back to their school team, how does that experience translate? There is a risk of bad habits being picked up playing for a summer coach who focuses on your offensive game and doesn’t care as much about your half-court defense and whether you block out or not.
Why? Their thought process is that offensive skill gets you noticed by college coaches. Colleges offering their summer players scholarships adds to their resume. That means more players will seek to be on their team, and they can pick and choose who they take for their roster.
And every time they add a player, they get paid.
The other half of the lie is that this is the only way to get a college to notice you.
The truth is, in 2024, there are literally dozens of ways to spread the news about a player to college coaches.
If you are good enough to play at the next level, a college will find you.
The Name, Image and Likeness chaos has reached high school sports.
31 states now have laws established by their state high school governing bodies that allow high school students to receive payment for being an athlete. The whole point of NIL is that athletes can get paid for video games using athletes names and jersey numbers and also for marketing campaigns by businesses where the players are spokespeople.
But how it’s evolved (very quickly, I might add) is that college players are getting paid for doing nothing. Colleges are collecting money and funneling it to players, and the bigger colleges with football programs are getting more money to spend on bringing in better athletes.
How in the wide world of sports are high schools going to be able to do that?
I can count on two hands the number of high schools in Indiana that could pull off that kind of power play. They are the biggest schools in the most affluent school corporations—Homestead, Carmel, Fishers…you get the picture.
And college sports are in a free-fall because of it.
You’ve read my thoughts about high schoolers being able transfer to other schools, and the proposal that the IHSAA is considering right now that would allow a family to transfer a player once in their four years without any scrutiny over the change of school.
In case you missed that column from a few weeks ago, the basics of the proposal would allow a student to transfer once after the conclusion of their freshman year without having to move to their new school district and without having to explain to anyone why they are changing schools.
We’ve already addressed this, and we are moving on from that today.
In the final analysis, the summary of this is that the concept of high school athletes being considered “student athletes” is in danger. The IHSAA’s positioning high school athletics as “education-based” is at stake with the way this all plays out.
I hope they get it right.
But, in the end, the truth is that there used to be a partnership between parents, their students and their schools. That partnership was the foundation of how students learned inside the classroom and how they accepted coaching outside of it.
But ask any teacher or coach right now, and that partnership is being shredded.
The respect level parents show teachers and coaches is evaporating, and that attitude is being translated to the children who are just mirroring the behavior their parents exhibit.
There isn’t a school corporation or a sports governing body that can do anything to stop that. We, as parents, must do better.
If we don’t, those unscrupulous summer coaches win, and then they actually do become the only way to get a college scholarship.
We can’t let that happen.

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