The first time I heard the saying, “If you‘re not cheating, you‘re not trying hard enough” was nearly 2 decades ago when I became involved in coaching Club Hockey. I chuckled at first but soon realized it was NOT about teaching the fundamentals of the game but trying to secure what was perceived as the best talents. Hockey is an expensive sport that includes lots of travel to play top tier teams in the region and nationally if you are good. However, at some point playing little league sport has to be FUN not work. After a few seasons it became apparent the sport was about whose parents could bank roll the team.
As time went on it was the parents that ruined the FUN as they wanted their way and would make sure management knew it was all about their kid(s). Today we call it entitlement by helicopter parents. I call it sour grapes because the truths are exposed about the level of play, especially if its all about winning and not about having FUN. As time passed I picked up the whistle to coach Baseball and Football and soon learned it was not about a competitive balance but who could recruit better or sell traveling to beat the best. The problem is it was NOT the best, just the families that could pay to play in different cities and make playing one sport about as boring as serving pizza, chicken fingers or juice boxes to youngsters. Oh and don’t forget participation medals for all to attend some lame tournament usually played on a holiday weekend.
Many of you may be wondering why this is relevant and the answer is simple, it continues in high school. The fact athletic directors, principals and coaches allow sports to dictate their culture is alarming. Yes many districts are not well funded but at what point do you do the right thing? We are still awaiting that answer as for decades coaches have bought into the statement“If you‘re not cheating, you‘re not trying hard enough”. Basketball has been the subject of debate for years as inner city athletes were brought to the suburbs and eventually became more relevant in football. Now schools are legitimately turning their heads to closed attendance areas to allow talented little leaguers to attend their school. Perhaps it is about winning but maybe it is more about who will donate much needed monies to hang a banner in centerfield or in the rafters of the arena or the end zone of the field. Yes these are the monies needed to pay for transportation, team meals, equipment and trainers. What is lost is the FUN of the sport. The fact is neighborhood kids want to play with one another and not be recruited and have to travel great lengths to play a sport. Also many loose interest in by the time they are 16 especially if they do not get playing time. The focus should be on obtaining an education and the opportunity to advance to college. However, society has placed too much of an emphasis on sports and we are alarmed when kids quit.
Yes they Quit sports, Quit life or Quit giving a darn because they have been told “If you‘re not cheating, you‘re not trying hard enough”. So this attitude probably leads to them living in your basement because the etiquette and fundamentals were not taught by coaches to do their best and academia was not a focal point to have them advance as student athletes. Look at the colleges that have others take athletes tests or homework or even involve others in drug testing. Those same practices trickle down to high school. So being a model citizen might not be taught at a young age as many learn from examples. Anyone remember Barry Bonds?(*)by the HR title for PEDs. Now those designer drugs are readily available in high school. Perhaps he lived by the statement “If you‘re not cheating, you‘re not trying hard enough”.
So the next time a parent or player tells you, hey lets go play at XYZ school, you shoud ask yourself, Am I cheating my family? Will my athlete advance past high school and is it worth lying and cheating for an address all because we want to wear a winning jersey. There are no guarantees in life, but if you are living by the statement “If you‘re not cheating, you‘re not trying hard enough” you are the culture that has placed too much of an emphasis on sports, not academia or what is the best interests of the child.
Choose #Academia1st as it will get you further in life. It is the 60 years of post secondary education that will matter most long term.
We know athletes these days are getting bigger, faster and stronger. Unfortunately so do all the for profit companies ready to take your hard earned monies. Yes the pay to play all star games that are meaningless as it is not the best available athletes that play in these games. Just families that can afford to pay to attend. In addition to these marketing companies telling you how great you are they also sell your information to other companies like trainers, recruiting services, combine companies and subscription based entities. The common denominator is like the internet phishing, yes fishing to take monies out of your account on a monthly basis and offer little to no impact on your athlete. Many of these companies will tell you it is about exposure or that numerous college coaches that will be on hand to evaluate your athlete. The fact is many college coaches want athletes to attend their own camps and if you put the effort into them, they will evaluate you. So attending 40 camps and everything under the sun is really about being a “Selfie” and no one really cares if you attend 40 camps. Yes you can post it on social media but does anyone really care and does it scare off potential suitors? Imagine if coach ABC likes the athletes film and wants you at his college then sees multiple social media posts from a plethora of other universities. It could impact coach ABC because he figures coach XYZ might trump his efforts in the long evaluation process. Figuring out the evaluation process is fairly easy. The Varsity film, transcripts and attending the school of interests event like a junior day or camp is probably a path to success. Attending multiple events because you have the financial resources is like that little league coach that pumps his chest about his kids and has no regard for the other team members or their families success’. Too much individualism has occurred over the past 6-7 years and the team aspect has dwindled. So the rich mans gain has become his game of getting hustled on a daily basis. Yes eventually if you attend 40 events someone will notice you. However, for the vast majority it will be the student athlete that has a high score on the college board tests of ACT or ACT, a higher than average GPA and yes the varsity film that shows athleticism. So when you receive that email, social media tag or someone reaches out to you that is NOT a college coach just think about it and ask, is this in my best interest or are they hustling me? If you are a rich man and want to plan the game just remember do not wear an article of clothing from another camp or trainer to a college campus, rather wear your high school gear so the coaches can identify you and associate you with a high school. Most likely the college coaches know your head coach and can gain the necessary information to move forward of extending an offer. It is NOT a Rich mans gain/game unless you make it one. Trust the process!
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