Often many ask how has the game has changed and the answer is simple, Money! Money has been the incentive for many since the barter system has been in place. Some would say this is a good strategy while I am a firm believer it has ruined the game and the futures of many. Yes there was a time in which sports was a leisure activity and an opportunity to get some exercise and bond with the neighborhood kids. However, In 1980 Nolan Ryan became the first million dollar player when he signed a four-year free agent contract with the Houston Astros for one million dollars per season. Some might say this started the beginning of sports as a career. In the 80’s Dr.J, Bird, Magic and Jordan made Basketball the talk of the town and youngsters grabbed a pair of shorts, sneakers and a basketball rather than trying to graduate from high school. So as we fast forward almost 4 decades salaries have gone up tremendously and academia has suffered as students ditch the books to focus on athletics and dreams of stardom.
"Wanted Immediately: A Sober diligent Schoolmaster capable of teaching READING, WRITING, ARITHMETICK, and the Latin TONGUE... Any Person qualified as above, and well recommended, will be put into immediate Possession of the School, on applying to the Minister of Charles Parish, York County." -- The Virginia Gazette, August 20, 1772
In 1772 academia was being requested as obtaining an education was valued. Nowadays in some areas schools have become babysitters for parents and graduation rates are lower than usual. The trend of one and done in college even weakens the value of post secondary education and emphasizes athletics. Even the fact that ice hockey or baseball will have you enroll at a young age to play sports rather than attend college in what some term “Gap Years” to avoid next level education. All of this may be fine if you are truly gifted but are you remains the question.
In the early 1970’s many were introduced to a Strength & Conditioning coach named Marv Marinovich whom became popular nationally when his son Todd Marinovich was published in Sports Illustrated in an article, titled “Bred To Be A Superstar”, that discussed his unique upbringing under his father who wanted to turn his son into the “perfect quarterback”. Many will say this led to the proliferation of the money grab for both Strength & Conditioning coaches and quarterback trainings. Now every kid in America could travel to California to become the next Air Jordan or star quarterback all for a fee.
Yes the almighty dollar has created the haves versus the have nots as eager parents chased the trainers to separate themselves from the local talents as the 70’s had self proclaimed experts that were trying to build their business’ and make money. It may have worked for a few but like anything else in business it spread nationwide as the hustle for new clients via traveling training camps evolved. Yes the come train with us became a big business over a decade ago as former athletes, some who signed professional contracts but never played, became experts in the field of speed and agility training, Strength & Conditioning or a quarterback guru.
Just like the infomercials, but wait there is more, seems to be the mantra of many to get parents to buy into their business of making your son or daughter a D1 athlete. If anyone promises D1 you should grab your wallet and run as most likely they are in the business of making money as their is no guarantee of being D1. All one has to do is some easy research to find out if a trainer is certified via the DORA – Colorado.gov website that regulates business’. Also the internet is a great resource to find out if a person played professionally. Many websites show transactions like being signed or cut from a team along with games played. Often the language of “Former Player” simply means a contract was signed to participate in team activities and the said player most likely never played for that particular team. However, if they did play an extensive log would be available. So doing research in the modern era given the unlimited resources on the internet should be a focal point. In todays modern era people are trying to make money off families without providing results. So Monies have ruined the game. Just look at all the so called experts charging a fee to participate in their facility or field compared to the volunteer youth and high school coaches. Chances are the later attend training events and seminars and do a better job than the fee based outfits that are similar to the often complained about membership gyms.
Monies have ruined the game as business’ that complain about coaches ramp up their client lists to make hundreds of dollars weekly. Some even partner with pay to play events such as all star games or traveling events. 3 years ago a trainer balked at 7on7 and said it was a waste of time and money. Now he fields multiple teams and charges thousands of dollars to participate. Again Monies have ruined the game.
In the end it is your choice on how to spend your hard earned dollars. However, we have been around the block and know it is about talent NOT how much money or the number of events one attends. Focus on spending money on educational tutors for a higher GPA or college board exams like the ACT or SAT. Monies invested in academia usually provide better dividends than sports. So when you are told to open your wallet be cautious as it is NOT about spending or attending multiple trainers or events it is about be well rounded and probably relying on you high school coaches that are FREE to you to get better. Last time I checked that 45 pound weight at the school weighed the same as that fancy gym membership location. Also the goal post you toss the football to hit at the quarterback training field looks similar to the one at your high school that is FREE. Monies do not have to ruin the game if you are smart about it so focus your efforts on bonding with your team at your school with your coaches. These are the same coaches college recruiters will rely upon when they visit during their recruiting cycle. Football will make a big push to evaluate April 15 to May 31 so be prepared. Being prepared means talking to your counselor for your transcripts, college board exams and your head coach. All of this is FREE and no monies exchanged. Therefore NO Monies have been involved in this equation for success. Hard work does pay off as long as you know what work needs to be done. Academics is a good start so focus on the books and not what others are doing. You control your own destiny not some for hire guru. Be wise and be well and beware of opening your wallet when things can be free.