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On The Fence

Bobby Leach "The Rooster" | 12/11/2013, 5:28 p.m.
To play or not to play? That is the million dollar question for many sport specific athletes in search of ...

To play or not to play? That is the million dollar question for many sport specific athletes in search of that college scholarship opportunity that will guarantee first and foremost continued education but also prolong the playing days of the competing athlete. I have always questioned why people define themselves by what they are doing and athletes of all skill levels are prone to that notion. The opportunity to take it to the next level is a motivating factor in the decision to play for traditional prep programs but times are changing with sport specific training regiments and leagues built around serving that population.

That is bad news for high school teams who depend on their student athletes to fill positions on various teams and could be a trend that cannot be reversed. There are many perceived advantages to playing on club teams for instance there are typically longer seasons and there are higher expectations of playing time when parents are forking out hefty fee's for participation that often runs into the thousands of dollars range.

That said, there is also the logic that more college coaches will see them compete due to the fact these clubs often play teams nationally and are not restricted to region or to a specific time of year. You have to wonder how much attention is really being paid to prep athletes in season when collegiate coaches are often running their own teams at the same time. Exposure is a huge selling point as is the year round competition that normally does not interfere with high school seasons but there is no guarantee that won't be the next step.

In the highly competitive collegiate scholarship market, the stakes are high both financially and socially for the athletes and their families which has only fed the advent of more club programs spread across more sports. Club sports include basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, soccer and swimming but I wouldn't be surprised if more sports like tennis, track and golf are not already on the horizon.

Personally I think this new reality has hidden dangers that could have consequences we as a society have yet to tackle. Every athlete has the ability to train and perfect their skill sets but not every young athlete has the financial stability backing them to afford this route. Competing at the next level for high school athletes is understandably a common pursuit but the playing field is changing with the advent of club teams and in the end, I find it hard to believe that it will be level considering the financial aspects associated with the issue.

Let me know what you the reader thinks.