Friday, August 14, 2009

Great Post From Glen Nelson

The folowing a part of an article by Glen Nelson at Hoopgurlz:

I love the phrase, "It's all about the kids." I must have heard it a hundred times this past summer.

And each time it made me think.

If it's all about the kids, then why are more club coaches recruiting players than teaching players (or coaching their teams, for that matter)? One father of a younger elite prospect turned down at least a half-dozen offers from other teams during the final weeks of July. Another coach who'd been his best buddy all last year stopped talking to him after his daughter didn't switch over to that coach's team.

The father was puzzled. "Why does it seem like everyone's assuming my daughter is going to switch teams?" he asked.

Good question. I have another: If it's all about the kids, then why are many of them playing three games in a day for a championship whose name everyone, including the players, will forget the next week? Truly, if it were OK to play that often and risk injury (do the initials A, C and L mean anything to anyone?), they'd be doing it on the college and professional levels. Shoot, how often do high-school teams play on back-to-back days?

If it really is all about the kids, why are there so many bad teams playing each other in what is far from a negative-plus-a-negative-equals-a-positive equation? Yes, you had a couple dozen college coaches at your game, but how many were actually watching you play and how many were texting their colleagues about how bored they were? That's not my idea of "exposure."

Oh yeah, exposure. Remember that concept? Put kids who want to play college basketball in front of coaches who have scholarships for kids good enough to play college basketball. Does that really ever happen anymore or does the quest for winning, the recruiting, whining, incessant playing, mounting bags of ice and, of course, the poor officiating get in the way?

In spite of it all, the players just keep getting better. No, there is not a score of Maya Moores and Brittney Griners emerging every year. But there are a whole lot more players able to do a whole lot more things -- bigger athletes with heftier skill sets. Time was, you stuck the fastest kid who wouldn't get called for traveling more than, say, three times a game at the point. Nowadays, if you're point-guard-sized and don't have a decent crossover, can go behind your back and between your legs, you're probably playing volleyball or lacrosse.

But, all about the kids? Hardly. Until USA Basketball snatches up all the elite players and keeps them all summer so everyone stops fighting over them and someone starts developing them. Until the NCAA starts taking responsibility for the burgeoning number of events it sanctions, imposes geographical requirements on team makeup and makes all player data available to interested parties on something called the Internet. Until USA Basketball, the NCAA, Nike and whomever else is trying to squeeze a drop out of the turnip invests in training the coaches so they actually know how to coach. Until all that happens, it's all about everything but the kids.