It continues to amaze me and many others how much emphasis is placed on the recruiting of high school athletes. This is not sour grapes that NC State, my favorite team, doesn’t enjoy the spotlight associated with press conferences by 17-year olds when they announce where they will go to school for one semester, play college basketball for two semesters and then shuffle off to the professional ranks. The emphasis placed on the recruiting by colleges of high school players is over-played.
It sells newspapers; it sends beat reporters to the site of the anouncement; it causes top columnists of local sports pages to write about it. It brings people, many who don’t give a flip and many who live and die with it and think that the player is the next God’s-Gift-To-Winning-An-NCAA-Title, to the internet to watch and listen to the announcement. It’s over blown, and this is one reason the world is not a safer place.
Mark Packer, a college sports radio host and son of Billy Packer, has a great line any time a caller asks him to proclaim the abilities of a college’s recruiting class. “Call me in four years and I’ll tell you if they were any good,” he says, or something as that. At least, that’s what he used to say. It might be that he changes the number to one (year) or two (years), but you get the point. The recruits these days seem to better than they were a few years ago, but the question remains: Are they? Or, is the rest of the talent just mediocre at best?
The talent in the NBA, we are told, is as good as or better than it every used to be. That would be as a whole, not specifically individuals. Is LeBron James a better player than Michael Jordan? Not if you’re counting championship rings, but maybe overall he’s more talented. Is there a player in the NBA who is as talented as Bill Russell was?
As far as college players, we don’t get the chance, these days, to come to that conclusion, to compare players of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago to today’s players because the best players are now in the one or two and done mode, leaving college before leaving a mark in the record books and making a considerable mark on the college game by playing four years. The college coaches who recruit that way, who ignore college academics for intercollegiate athletics, should be ashamed; they are making a sham of college mission. The fans who agree with the coaches and who live and die on the words of a 17-year old need to get a life.
Dictionary.com word of the day
veridical (adjective) [vuh-rid-i-kuh l]: truthful; veracious