I had to republish an article I previously wrote about "stealing players". There has been a lot of coaches complaining about this lately. The ironic thing is that some of the coaches who cheered the article last time it ran, are now on the other side of the fence, complaining that others are now stealing their players. The blog from March follows:
There is nothing more ignorant in the Club Ball scene than the belief in "stealing players". For those of you that are new to this lazy excuse, I will expand.
Suzie Q plays for Team#1. She eventually has a change of heart and decides to join Team#2. All hell breaks loose as Team#1 cries foul and starts bad mouthing Team#2 and Suzie Q. Of course Suzie Q's parents are also described as traitors and a disgrace to the human race.
The problems with this train of thought follows:
1. No team OWNS any players-
Youth basketball players are not slaves or indentured servants. Clubs can not own them. They can not sign a legally binding contracts that restricts their participation with a different team until they are adults. A young player changed their mind and you want them flogged for it! A parent did what they felt was best for their child and they should be grouped with Benedict Arnold! Get a grip on reality . Unless you have groomed this kid since the inception of their basketball playing days, you have piggy backed off of someone too. Any elite player in the high school ages has played for other coaches before you. That 6'0 freshman that you claim, is not yours to claim. Thank her parents for her genetic make up that made you seem like a genius for discovering her. Never mind that any fool can discover a tall teenager and figure that they might be successful on the basketball court one day. Next time you are updating your resume, keep in mind that your employer owns you and your new company will be considered thieves if you decide to leave. How ridiculous is that?
2. Step your game up in order to keep the players that you want
Why is Angelina Jolie called a home wrecker. Maybe Jennifer Aniston should have stepped her game up and not LOST her man to someone who was obviously more suitable for him. I know that I am getting carried away with this analogy but you get my point. Club Coaches act as though they are jilted lovers when a player is "stolen". That player was not stolen(neither was Brad), they LEFT on their own free will. They apparently felt that the grass was greener on the other side.
3. Healthy competition is the American Way-
This beautiful country thrives because of opportunity. Opportunity results from competition. Consider how much the average citizen would pay for a car if only one car manufacturer was allowed to produce cars. This monopoly would benefit few at the expense of many. Healthy competition provides incentive for business owners(Club Coaches/Directors) to make a product that is helpful to many. More than one manufacturer means more jobs. With more jobs(capable clubs) we have more prosperity(scholarship players).
The club coaches that claim that another team stole their players are akin to the old robber barons who tried to monopolize free enterprise. Everyone claims that they are in Club Basketball for the girls. If Clubs are truly in it for the girls, they should promote the entire sport of girls basketball and stop with the nonsense. So what, your former player chose to play elsewhere. How about this, try to remember that this young girl is being a productive member of society. She is trying to advance her standing in life through this great game we all love. She is being physically active in a community that is increasingly obese. She is staying away from the ills of society like drugs and teen pregnancy.
And that evil coach/club that stole your player. Never mind that they spend enormous amounts of time with our future. They are grooming the leaders of tomorrow to lead, build, produce and contribute to our social security. The majority of them have good intentions, just like you. Even if they are in it for the wrong reasons(money, fame, influence, ego), they still have a positive effect on many young lives.
(A side note about Dirty Macks:)
"Dirty Mack" is a slang term referring to the practice of hating the competition so much that you are all they speak about. When you are recruiting (stealing ;-) a player from a different club, you should not concentrate on the negative attributes of their current club, but focus on the positive attributes of yours. A dirty mack will say " He is not half the man that I am" or " She is not as pretty as me" or " He is a dumb such and such". Coaches and Directors should up sell their clubs with factual attributes like the number of games played against elite competition, shoe affiliations, college alumni or practice facilities. To recruit a player or parent by spreading rumors and innuendo is just plain dirty. Coaches and Directors should have enough competence and confidence to recruit or keep a player without bashing the competition. You can always tell which coaches are the "Dirty Macks" because their players repeat their ignorant rants.)
No sane person likes to lose and no coach wants to lose players. However, the truth is that the players were never ours to begin with. We all have been placed in their lives to have a positive effect on them for the short amount of time that they are in our care. We all go about it in different ways and the beauty is that the players can take a little from all of us and build upon it to become great coaches and leaders themselves. By constantly bad mouthing fellow coaches and former players, we are teaching these kids that animosity and hating is the way leaders function. As coaches, we are in the business of kids. We do not buy, sell and lose them. We influence them, right or wrong. You either build character or groom haters. Which one are you doing?