Alexa's take on athletics: The problem with factory athletes
Imagine an athlete moving hundreds of miles away from their family and the town where they grew up. They moved just to attend a top price boarding school in order to improve themselves. According to the NCAA, high school athletes have a 6 percent chance of moving onto college sports. These athletes moved in order to become the best athlete they can, simply to get a chance to play and obtain a scholarship to a top tier university.
Moving across the country isn't the only way in which athletes do this. They may transfer from a lower division high school to a higher division high school within their area.
According to Athletic Director Brett Diehl, “OHSAA and OLSD both have transfer policies in place. OHSAA requires athletes to sit out the last 50 percent of their season when they transfer. However, there are exemptions that allow students to play the entire season. When an OLSD student transfers from one OLSD high school to another OLSD high school, that student must not participate in any contests for one calendar year, unless approval is granted from central office. Approval from central office is dependent on the reason of the transfer.”
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but overall the decision for an athlete to transfer into another school just to play sports may not be the best option for them.
There are schools around the United States that are purely meant to build an athlete’s skill. IMG Academy, a boarding school located in Bradenton, Florida, is “a multi-sport training destination that has hosted, trained and taught some of the world’s top athletes. But it’s not just about excelling on the field and court. Academic enrichment and athletic skill development represent only a portion of the training our student-athletes receive.”
“Our aim is to build young men and women of character. We achieve this through our innovative curriculum, which challenges every student-athlete to set goals and push past their limitations. Every day, we remind ourselves that we’re building leaders in sport and leaders in life,” according to their website.
The downside to this path is the schools are designed to simply be a factory for college recruiters. An athlete goes in, probably pretty average at their sport, then boom. By the time recruiters are looking at them they have upped their playing ability significantly all because they have a financial advantage over others, since these schools tuition rates are not cheap.
The process in which these athletes are created does not make them unique, it builds them into a good athlete, but they may be missing other skills necessary to succeed in college-level sports.
By paying to go to these exclusive state-of-the-art training facilities, athletes are basically given an advantage to be scouted and recruited that a child at a regular public school may not have.
It is important that the student athletes that play for lower division and less fortunate schools are given the same opportunity to be seen during the recruiting process. Just because one athlete has put a lot of money into becoming better at their sport doesn't mean a child of less privilege may not have the pure talent to top them.
This is just a small portion of a larger problem in our society. We live in a world where if you have money to spend on things such as boarding school and tutors, you are more likely to get better opportunities than those who are less fortunate. This is something that needs to be changed. There are plenty of students who have worked much harder in school, but still have been denied opportunities because of their financial states. It’s time to level the playing field.