23 comments

  1. Can someone fill me in? When did any of this stuff begin to matter? Are the regular season schedules of these high school kids not enough time to get an adequate look at their skills in the game? Isn’t the month of May one of the most stressful and rigorous academic times for high school students? Isn’t this the time of year when final exams, crashing books, finishing papers, and preparing to take the SAT test are all consuming and colliding demands of a limited time schedule? Why should hoops take precedent at this time of year? In most the photo shots I’ve seen of these events, the stands appear very empty. Maybe we’re taking all of this too far…We’re are talking about some kids that are three to four years away from graduating high school…We’re giving them the perception and continual sales job that basketball should trump importance of all. I’m sorry, great coverage provided by the Scoop journalism staff, but I think our priorities have become deteriorated. Basketball camps, May Classics, Nike and Adidas tournaments, AAU programs…I’m confused. Who is any of this really for? Whatever happened to a doing your damnedest to shine for the high school team during the basketball season and then achieving a little balance and harmony by resting your body and strengthening your mind? Whatever happened to holding a few cards in your hand so the other guy you may one day play against not get chance to see? And when is their time for family? When is there time to talk to a younger brother or sister about their dreams? When is there time for a summer vacation to just forget all and drive across a sprawling beautiful country and breath some new air into a view of young future? I can see why some of these kids look a little flat. By the time they’re of age to go to college, they’ve done nothing else with their time than be basketball whores for a full array of greedy coaches and single-minded selfish adults that really don’t give a rat’s ass about family and academics. It’s very hypocritical to talk about kids that stray once they arrive at college when we are shoving sports down their collective throats for our own one-track means. There is an absence of example..There is an absence of consistency to scream of bad grades and unpreparedness for the rigors of college academics and then pry kids away from tutors and classroom focus to play basketball in early May.

    Won’t it all be much simpler come the day we can just grow hoops stars from vegetable pods under the May sun a revamped greenhouse in Jordan Hall?…Or maybe we can grow our future teams like fruit a giant Plumlee tree created from the fusion of 5-star seeds with the chalkboard mind a Bobby Knight brain.

  2. Oops.

    “…drive across a sprawling beautiful country and [breathe] some new air into a view of young future?”

  3. I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I read this, I kind of thought of the “mission statement” Tom Cruise wrote at the beginning of Jerry McGuire.

  4. Judging by the sarcasm in your voice, Dustin, I’m guessing some folk didn’t like you talking about the proverbial scholly elephant in the living room? It may be an uncomfortable fact, but it remains a fact nonetheless…and one which I heard several parents discussing after IE 17s early exit (along with their furious questioning of the late-game coaching decisions).

    And, by the way, Hugh, I was just ribbing you about your sleep-filled parental experiences. That’s amazing and great for your family. And, yes, beers are in order sometime soon. Seeing as Korman actually saw the light of day this weekend, I’d say the first few rounds should be on him.

  5. Downing – you bring up a ton of excellent points. The life of a top prospect is about basketball. That’s probably always been the case. But slowly and surely, we see more and more kids devoting their springs and summers to this game we all know and love. There were 219 teams at the adidas May Classic. Teams had as few as seven or eight players, and as many as 11 or 12. So let’s say 10 on average — that’s 2,190 players. Not all these guys are going to go to college and the vast majority, if they do, are going to be playing at DII, DIII, NAIA and JUCO institutions. And no one is at these things hoping to one day play for East Podunk Junior College. The play AAU in April and May (in front of no coaches), play school summer league in June and play AAU (in front of coaches in July). I suppose summer vacations are scheduled in August, before school begins.
    So is it a waste of time, of theirs and ours? Maybe. But there is value. For one thing, it allows us to feed the beast. For another, these kids are constantly playing basketball and that only improves your skill. And playing in games feeds a competitive spirit that may have been lost in the “everyone gets a trophy”-culture of youth sports.
    What you are really getting at, I think, is the loss of the student-athlete. They’re just athletes, hired guns to play a game for our amusement and dollars. And, yeah, you’re probably right. Just look at Kentucky’s GPA.

  6. There are a lot of assumptions in Downing’s comments. One of them is that becasue these kids are playing in a basketball tournament in the middle of May, they must not be serious students. Its wrong. Some may not be good students but many are. They realize that, like all students, to have the most choices in life, they must excel in the academic arena as well as the athletic one. Very few will go far on athletics alone and some of the very best athletes (who may be one and dones at Kentucky) have the very best grades. I would say that there are just as many kids who are pushed by parents and teachers (and their own desire to succeed) in the areas of science and music where they travel for competitions… we just don’t hear about them as much.
    If you have a child who has some talent at something and they love to do it, and it provides some added benefits such as dedication, time management, leadership and teamwork, why wouldn’t you, as a parent, encourage it? There are many, many benefits to playing basketball at this level and I can understand why it “looks” like nothing else matters but thats really not the whole story 🙂

  7. ChronicHoosier,
    What were the parents saying about the scholarship situation (without naming names of course)?

  8. H and D’s Scoop Talk comments emphasized exhausted, tired, draining, not strong, forced, wore out, weak and a couple of others I have forgotten, coupled to the most notable comment being many less spectators Sunday than Saturday leads me to believe these tournaments may be to big an event by allowing to many teams, creating to many games in such a short timeline and do not serve the best interests of anyone.

  9. Hugh-

    I didn’t intend to claim your time is totally wasted. You guys have done a wonderful job providing the coverage. I gained a lot from your video. May I also add that you guys are articulate and very fun to watch on video. All of you are great on camera and it truly separates you from the competition…Keep the vids coming. I did sense a hint your own admission(and in Clarion’s evaluation/comments) that much of this is overkill. I guess that is the point…Why does it need to be a beast? And what is the beast you refer? I’m not even sure what we’re feeding anymore…Is the beast the true hunger of the athlete to do nothing but spend every hour a summer playing basketball, or is the hungry animal our desire to manipulate the system so we get year-round platefuls of year-round sports?

    I beg to differ a bit on the “improving skills” aspect of your argument. There is a trade-off. A kid comes out of high school and immediately catapults into college seasons that are also getting longer…exhibition games are being played…the Big 10 teams play each other repeatedly and then must face many the same opponents again in conference tournaments after a grueling regular season. I think there is a point of diminishing returns and the demands upon young athletes with still-developing, somewhat fragile, bodies. We’re not even injecting into the debate the rigors of heavy practice schedules. How many knee explosions on a basketball court are due to complete wearing down of a body? And why is it necessarily a good thing that every potential kid you may play against see every aspect your game- your strengths and weaknesses? I remember a comment in an NBA game I saw recently…Jeff Van Gundy was stunned when he saw Derek Fisher drive to the basket and finish going to his right. A bag of tricks in his game he had never seen before. That’s what I think is so intriguing about Guy-Marc Michel..Maybe there are some moves/tricks this kid will show none of us expected..It makes the game more fun. Can’t a little mystery and romanticism serve as small side course to feed the beast? What a delight if this kid knocks are socks off with a game none thought could shine in the Big 10.

    Final Thought: Playing against better athletes in these spring/summer tournaments may improve your game to an extent, but how much could decent rest and rejuvenation of body and spirit elevate a game. Burnout may be even more evident on teams that rely heavily on a few 5-star one-and-done’s expected to carry the load of a team. Was the youthful freshman energy seen in Calipari’s team finally wearing down coming down the stretch?

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    Susan-

    You make a lot of good points..All arguments have assumptions. There are many more above you can now digest. We could spend much more time on the value of extended academic calendars and trade-offs between giving up the arts and music in classrooms in favor of pushing core classes/curriculums. You may so heavily push/encourage/manipulate your kid to excel and apply mountains of experience onto god-given gifts to such an exaggerated degree that you end up destroying/losing the joy it once gave. It’s not an argument only applied to athletics.

  10. The AAU Genie is out of the bottle for good. Its not just basketball either. Its most sports, with the possible exception of football where the toll on the body is too high to sustain year-round play. But they have camps and of course conditioning and weight work.

    I think HC makes a good point about the structure of the tournament. It sounds like there are just too many teams involved with too much variation in skill. I mean, how much fun was it watching Perea dunk on Ollie? How much did we learn? How much skill did Perea acquire? Probably not much.

    Its up to the parents and coaches to deal with it, mostly the parents. For instance, its been reported that Yogi’s parents opted out of AAU for a time and got him individual instruction instead. It would seem that turned out well.

  11. It is extremely unfortunate but a fact of life if you plan on going to the next level. When my boys were being recruited the college coaches’ cared little about ‘state championships’. They wanted to see what you could do at Fargo or Virginia Beach (Nationals) against the best in the country. A 6th place at Fargo would get you a scholarship, a 4 time state champ would get a handshake. My daughter traveled to the top track invitationals.
    I wish it weren’t so. It intrudes a lot on family life. You just have to maintain a balance. It did not have a negative impact on my kids academically. If anything, it prepared them for the difficult life of a D-1 student-athlete (which most actually are).

  12. Anything taken to the extreme can be bad and every family has to decide that for themselves. As a parent of an athlete (or musician or scientist) you have to stay close to your kid and see how they are doing with all that comes at them. You help them realize they can’t do it all and that the choices they make will impact their future. What do they want to do later in life? What paths are there to reach that goal? Do they want to play their sport in college? If so, here is what you need to do. Alot of D1 athletes have said playing their sport helped keep them very organized in college and helped them manage their time and forced them to do well academically. Sports at higher levels keep a lot of kids out of trouble.

    In the end, I think as a parent, you want your kid to find their passion and then work at it. One of the greatest things in life is being really good at something and that filters down to every aspect of your life. Sure there are people who push too hard and kids who get burnt out but hopefully even those come away with some understanding of setting a goals and trying to reach them.

  13. I see youth being stolen. I see the lure of the dollar taken precedent. I see coaches moving through jobs like a revolving door. I see immediate gratification and attempts to sell more than you truly bring. I see words on the pages of this blog placing all concern on winning before recruits should be expected to give a school a second glance. I see the whole thing as a meat market. I see a day in sport when putting a jersey on to do something other than for yourself is not worth caring a hill of beans about. I see the quiet voice being smashed. I see the last original note of unpretentious heart never heard in a song of perfecting arrogant imitation..I see a world of big houses because big houses are what big people build. I see the Gulf of Mexico in an Cadillac Escalade filling up at the gas station. I see Cody Zeller going to Duke. I see Chet in his cockpit tossing his puke. I see Susan as Dana Carvey in a Church Lady dress…”Isn’t that special?” I see one day all the scales perfectly balanced in a cold world befitting an ultimate goal of I me mine.

  14. That’s what you would see then… you should get out more and what was it? tour the USA and breathe in the fresh air blowing across the wheat fields? And just stop reading about basketball in the spring. You’ll feel much better.

  15. If you allow it their youth can be stolen. It is important that you keep a good balance and sometimes you say no. Family always came before competition. Everything has it’s place and it’s up to the parents to keep things in order.

  16. And you should blog more. If it’s a gray rainy day and you have a basement, all the better. There’s nothing like the obnoxious Downing air mixing into the stale air of a bright perfume cover. It will help give you balance to counter that dreadful optimism. Stay on here a few months and soon you can become part of a very exclusive club. I forgot to tell you…my real name is Samantha….Samantha Pinkerton. Tata.

  17. Oops.

    Didn’t see you squeeze in the backseat with Susan, Chet. The above message was intended as response to Susan.

    May I add..You are a very cool and confident guy, Chet. I flew paper airplanes and wasted my youth.

  18. D-5: Too bad… maybe you would have some optimism if you would have had someone who helped you find something you were good at. Enjoy your basement.

  19. I believe the capturing of your fixation may be the first steps up the glorious risers from the dungeon of my love-struck heart…A first morning sunrise danced across my shoulders today…sent by your voice, your uplifting words, shining upon a withered soul to seek the new beam of hope where none existed before.

    ___________________________

    I don’t mind…go ahead. I can fart that stuff out. Use a few excerpts to get lucky tonight.

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