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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Is the recruiting process better or worse?

Coaches and scouts
at a showcase.
A player of mine at my high school recently signed with a division I college.  I couldn't be happier for the young man, his family, and our program.  For many players and their families, finding the right college is a long and stressful process where some are recruited heavily by many schools and some not at all.  Although that fact has never changed through the years, much about the recruiting process has.  When I went to high school, you played games, college coaches or representatives began to show up, they made some offers, you made some visits, and you made a decision.  The three parties that were heavily involved on the player's side were the player, his family, and his high school coach.  Today, much of the recruiting process is done completely without the involvement of the high school coach.  Showcases, AAU travel teams, and recruiting / marketing services have changed all that.  I honestly don't know if these changes, all things considered, are good ones.  There are good arguments on both sides of that debate.  Traveling around for tournaments and showcases brings some great exposure for players and gives players a chance to compare themselves with players from all over the country.  That's a great thing.  The down side is the cost.  Amateur baseball, the way it is currently structured and run, certainly benefits players that come from families that are better off financially.  AAU teams, showcases, and marketing firms are not free.  All together, some families shell out tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a player's pre-college career.  (My guess is that many kids never get that money back in the form of scholarships but that's another matter for another day).  The point is, how can a low income kid compete with that?  It used to be that sports provided a level playing field for all kids regardless of finances.  Not any more.  On top of that, these teams, showcases, and firms work.  Most players get their scholarship offers because coaches saw them at one or more of these events.  Parents feel they have no choice but to pay the money or else their kid will not get a chance.  They are probably right to a certain extent.  Kids from lower income families probably feel they can't compete and just stop playing altogether.   The RBI program run by Major League Baseball is one of a number of programs that attempts to address this problem.

The recruiting process is not a perfect one.  Whether the system needs to be "fixed" or just accepted is in the end just a matter of opinion.


  1. First off all, thank you for writing this blog. There is a lot of good information.

    However, in this case I could not disagree more!

    How is the fact that more kids have the opportunity to be seen by collge coaches and scouts be a bad thing? Sure there are people out there trying to seperate a fool and his money, but that exists in every part of life.

    AAU / Travel teams, whether you like them or not allow more kids, more opportunity. For every kid that leaves a local rec team to play on a travel team, that allows another local kid on the rec team more of a chance to play and develop. How is that bad? Who is it bad for?

    As far as kids of wealth having an advantage, really? Shocking! How is that different then any other part of the life? By the way, the same low income kid that is blessed with great physical skills will be given free opportunities, that a rich family can't buy for their kid with little talent.

    I have been around travel teams for six years with my son, and every team has offered or made available financial help for families that wanted their son to play but could not afford the cost. Every legitimate Baseball Academy will do the same thing.

    If a kids works hard enough and becomes good enough there will be opportunities. Does every kid get an equal chance? No! Not every kid works as hard. Not every kid is as good. It is the same in all parts of life. If my kid isn't smart enough, he doesn't get to take AP classes. If he isn't musically gifted and is good enough, he doesn't just get to be in the Jazz band.

    Sure parents spend thousands of dollars that they will never recoup. How does that make the opportunity to be seen and recruited bad? How could having more chances to be noticed bad? As a high school coach I would think you would want your players to have a chance to be seen that you can't provide to them. In many parts of the country, high school coaches are more involved. It is really up to the coach how involved he wants to be.

    Whether the system needs to be fixed is not really a matter of opinion. The system now offers more kids the opportunity to be seen by more coaches and gives the coaches and scouts more oportunities to see kids. That is a fact, not an opinion. Only whether you like the system because of how it affects you as an individual is a matter of opinion.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment! Just the type of intelligent conversation I was hoping for. A few of my players ( and therefore my teams) certainly have benefited from having these opportunities so believe me, I'm not complaining. Just raised the question. Thanks again and I'm glad you enjoy the blog!