Sports Recruiting - At Elementary School?
Mention the word "recruiting" in the same sentence as high school sports and people tend to offer up a strange look and some commentary — sometimes quite colourful — with accusations and name-calling.
Is there something wrong with school sports recruiting?
Schools brag about their academic achievements and the benefits of choosing their place, be it for music or something else, so why not sports?
If you're of the opinion that recruiting students for sports doesn't already happen in Greater Toronto Area schools, think again. What is interesting is the slick approach being taken by an increasing number of teachers, coaches and even current school players at not just promoting their schools, but with a heavy emphasis on sports programs. Getting the right athletes to their school is the objective.
Going to elementary schools and seeking out talented athletes about to finish Grade 8, seems fair - or is it?
No rules are broken. No tampering of regulations. Even Toronto District School Board Director Chris Spence, who I think is a good guy for the job, wants to hire a marketing person to go hunting for students to fill empty classes. Could they also be looking for good athletes?
I've heard people question the morals and ethics of recruiting a good basketball player, or a fabulous running back or a great goalie for a school team. By the way, all of them have happened. It makes one wonder does sports come before education?
OFSAA, that's the provincial sports association continues to struggle with maintaining a transfer rule, one they claim is fair, but it prevents students from switching high schools for sports. It's also a rule that frequently is blown up by loopholes, legal action and other factors.
Could recruiting impressive young athletes from Grade 8 be a way of getting to talented athletes before they figure it's time to switch schools and challenge OFSAA?
There are books on the market dealing with sports recruiting to high schools. Some are interesting, others depressing. Also worth noting is that earlier this year, the NCAA offically declared that Grade 7 students were classified as "prospects". For now, this only pertains to basketball as the association found college coaches working at elite and summer camps, creating college interest with kids who were ages 12 and 13.