A Broken System

In recent decades, athletic recruitment has become prevalent in high schools throughout the nation. Each year tens of thousands of teenagers are recruited to play sports in college. Extensive, year-round staffs from Division I powerhouses to Division III liberal arts colleges work to bring talented athletes to their schools. Before any of these competitors step onto the field, however, virtually all undergo an extensive recruitment process that can take up to four years. And as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has grown and evolved, this exhausting system has become unhealthy, unjust and deleterious to the hallowed integrity of college sports. First of all, the length and extent of the process creates an extremely tense and stressful situation for those involved. If seriously considering college athletics, most high school students dedicate each summer after their freshman year touring the country, playing in front of scouts at dedicated showcases. They are subjected to intense evaluations and exhaustive criticism. Subjugated by the pressure to perform, many are bogged down by stress and anxiety. In the words of Kevin Friedenberg, a Needham, MA lacrosse recruit, “The whole thing will just make you crazy.” In addition to the physical toll it can take, the athletic recruitment process itself is economically discriminatory. Going to all these summer showcases and visiting with university coaches is not free. Granted, if you are top a top 10 recruit, you are not going to go unnoticed. However, beyond that, it has become the athlete’s responsibility to make himself or herself known. Thus if one potential recruit can afford to travel across the country to demonstrate his or her ability, a significant, undeniable advantage is gained over the one who does not have the same opportunities. And therein lies the inherent economic disparity in the recruitment process. It is not to say that if you are not rich you cannot be recruited, but it is far easier if you have the appropriate resources available. Probably the most prominent argument against recruitment, however, is the unjust advantage athletes receive in the admissions process. At many universities, it is a fact that talented athletes do not necessarily have to meet the academic standards that apply to other students. Though there is a somewhat nebulous threshold below which is unacceptable, recruits can get by with lower grades and test scores, as they are aided in the admissions process by coaches and athletic directors alike. It is simply unfair that those who are talented at certain sports can gain an advantage over applicants who are subject to higher standards. Let us not forget that colleges are inherently educational institutions, even though they may play host to an array of different interests and activities. Lastly, the professionalization of college sports as a function of an extensive recruitment process destroys the integrity of collegiate athletics. For decades, the NCAA has been known as an alternative to professional sports that was more honest and pure, in the absence of economic interests. Although, as the athletic recruitment process has been refined, college sports have become more and more of a business, looking for the best recruits to fill the stands. This professionalization goes against everything college sports have stood for years past. Jack Sykes is a new Lower from New York, NY.