Thursday, June 10, 2010

Random Thoughts

I guess this summer basketball thing is just getting too large for the average fans. I still remember going to events that were held at the same location all day long for 3 days. The younger players would stay and watch the older players and dream. Now it is about expansion and the dollar, or at least it seems this way.

People have turned what used to be a commitment to assisting our youth into full time careers and profit making ventures. I am not complaining, just explaining. At one time many people worked hard at jobs during the day and in the evening and on weekends they worked for free mentoring young men and women in sports activities. All of a sudden much of this became big business or at the least big ego's.

Teams went from having local players who had tee shirts as uniforms to now having kids from all over a 200 mile radius who are outfitted with the best uniforms with matching sneakers and even over coats. I have even seen some higher profile teams play games with the parents on the side line with matching sneakers because that particular travel team had so many good players the sneaker companies funded them at a level better than high schools. These sneaker companies at one time paid some travel team coaches more than regular high school coaches earn to coach sports. I do have to say some of the travel team guys were head and shoulders better than many HS guys I have watched coach based on passion for the game alone.

In recent weeks we have heard about ticket scalping ventures at Kansas and other places. Not sure if the allegations are true. But the rumors of those type of activities across the country with travel team involvement has been out there for years. These activities were in addition to the old exhibition game opportunities provided to various travel team programs to play against good ole U as a reward for past or even future assistance. Many did not know some of those travel teams received thousands of dollars to play and lose by 40 points with washed up ex players, many supplied by the host school.

All this is part of what I have referred to earlier in this post. The money involved in amateur sports is something right out of a book that could be entitled "Making Money while Assisting Kids." This goes back to comparing the way youth sports were, and the way they are now.

Some examples:

Average at best players and parents are paying thousands to personal basketball trainers in the hope of getting the player better. Huge business!

Kids with limited ability are paying lots of money for all star camps where they think they will be discovered. Funny thing is most of the better players do not even pay to attend camps or at the very least pay a very small administrative fee. I used to watch various rising seniors pay large amounts in hope of being discovered by the many large D1 programs organizers promised would be in attendance. Diving and playing hard often with no one even watching.

How about the kids who pay to play on travel teams? They pay in the hope of being discovered. Funny thing is no one even watches if you are not playing for a team recognized for having very good players and a history of sending players to the D1 and D2 level. Check out the next event you attend. The court with the known players will be packed and the court with The Bronx Barracudas vs the Staten Island Cyclones will be empty except for the parents who are watching.

Speaking about tournaments this brings me full circle to the way tournaments are now as compared to the past. As I mentioned it was a great thing playing and watching tournaments in the same location. About 15 years ago this started to change when tournament directors decided to expand as much as possible. Even in Vegas the "Big Time " went to what seemed like 400 teams using every HS in Vegas. Than there was a Nike event held on the campus of UNLV. Than there was another event a week after the "Big Time" event. Than there was a tournament at Disney World sponsored by Nike. It goes on and on. Nothing wrong with inclusion if it is for the right reason and not just to make more money by having more teams and not providing a positive experience for young men and women.

This brings me to the Rumble in The Bronx. I need help. This is an event I attended every year until it got so big and confusing. Maybe I have gotten slower thinking and processing wise since becoming a member of AARP. But figuring these games out and where to go is so confusing. They have at least 6 sites from Fordham to what seems like Albany lol. Manhattan College back to Fordham over to some HS and than back to Manhattan. This is as bad as when my son played on the LI Panthers and we traveled 65 miles in Vegas looking for the gym only to find out we were at the wrong place and when we found the correct location they had lost on forfeit. The Panthers had one of the best Travel Teams ever assembled at that time. Over 250 college coaches were in the stands waiting for the game as The Panthers were lost in the desert lol.

Where do I start at The Rumble? What an adventure folks will have from Friday to Sunday. I guess I need to pack supplies and a map. Wow, AAU/Travel Team/Rec basketball. You have to love it!!!

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