Jul 20, 2009
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In the last few years we have seen an increase in animosity between high school teams and coaches and the club teams and coaches. Though the two claim to be so different, there is always one common argument - both parties claim to be working for the betterment of the athlete.
There is an old saying that two heads are better than one. I think this rule applies to the case of high school teams vs. club teams.
Obviously, I am a big supporter of high school athletics. More than anything, high school athletics combine the importance of academics and athletics to put together a well-rounded STUDENT-ATHLETE.
What many people may not know is that I am an equal supporter of club sports.
As an assistant coach on a local AAU boys basketball team, I see the importance that club sports can have. For some, club sports provide a platform where they can compete and perform on a higher level than what they're able to do in high school, particularly if they're assigned to a school that isn't as good as others.
Being involved with club sports, I also see the downside.
Club sports don't have the academic requirements that school sports have. But if a kid is fortunate enough to be recruited to play college sports, they must have the ability to perform well in the classroom and on the field, court, ice, etc.
If a student-athlete doesn't go to class, they can't play school sports that day. They can still work with their club team though.
If a student-athlete misbehaves in the classroom, the teacher can go to the school coach to help solve the problem, but not a club coach.
If a student-athlete fails a class, the school coach can hold them responsible. The club coach has no academic institution around it.
If a student-athlete stops performing in the classroom and his/her grade point average falls below a certain point, the local Board of Education and the N.C. High School Athletic Association have rules that make that student ineligible until they bring their grades back up. Club sports have no such thing.
There are some who are in the business of club sports for the wrong reasons. Some who are in it to make money of off another person's talent and abilities. Those people have a reason to keep the best athletes away from school sports, but those who are involved for the right reasons know that both should coexist.
If we're truly looking to benefit student-athletes, we need to make sure we are emphasizing academics and athletics. Without good academic practices, the athletic part doesn't matter.