I surrender! The day of specialization is here to stay. The days of the three-sport high school athlete are over with one-sport specialization here to stay.
I am a dinosaur who realizes my day has come and my opinions are old and outdated. I guess at the very least I do realize it. I had a pro baseball talent scout who I like and respect appear on my radio show and he brought me to that realization.
I have always been of the philosophy that if a high school athlete has the talent and aptitude, he should be allowed the opportunity to participate in all. Athletes who compete in different sports throughout the entire year, learn the art of competition in a pressure cooker, which in turn enables them to handle all areas of competition. I have always held to the principle that “the more you go to the well the easier it is to drink.”
My pro agent radio guest pointed out that his job is not to find an average or good athlete but to narrow the field to “the DUDE.” He may be absolutely correct. A person who possesses special God-given athletic qualities should most likely hone those special abilities.
Perhaps a dude or dudette should concentrate on only their special sport and should most likely make that shift prior to their junior year in high school. A high school athlete of this caliber will need to dedicate their heart and soul to attain their dream.
Many of the Division I basketball players in the NCAA tournament are “dudes.” They spent most of their time playing hundreds of AAU games with paid coaches who do know the game and are able to shop talents.
These NCAA dudes are usually one year into college and are McDonald’s All-Americans who moved from high school to high school to play for special academies that major in basketball. They are recruited by million-dollar coaches who are working for multiple million dollar institutions. All of these dudes are on a mission to be drafted by the pros and rake in big money.
This is true in all sports. Blue Springs High School has had a few elite athletes (dudes) in various sports who did have the dream come true. Admittedly I was excited, happy and proud of every one of them.
Several of those players actually did play more than one sport in high school. They were special athletes in many ways. And all of them had a sixth tool – they had good parents who gave them good advice and good attitudes to deal with their special talent. Not all dudes are fortunate enough to have that sixth tool, and those athletes definitely have a more difficult road ahead of them – difficult but not impossible.
I did shift my opinion, but the one point on which the talent scout agreed with me about is that still only 1 percent of high school athletes ever reach the status of “dude.” As a high school coach or athletic director you have to be concerned about the other 99 percent of athletes involved in the athletic program.
The bottom line that we both agreed on is that any athlete with a “dude” status better make the right decisions, and everyone who is not needs to understand how they fit into the program. Although both of us have different aspirations for the athletes, we both still really have the best interest of the athlete at heart.
I was lucky enough to coach three “dudes” in my career. The first time I saw them play, I was aware without question they fit into the “dude” model. So if you are not a “dude,” you may just want to enjoy your time in high school athletics and play more than one sport if you are so inclined. Just a thought!
• I saw Kansas play a lot this year and I think they had a bunch of special “dudes” on their team. I think coach Bill Self feels more comfortable coaching four-year guys who are committed to the program. Kentucky is the champion basketball program in grooming dudes, but some coaches and programs struggle with the idea.
• I hope John Dorsey is as good as I think he is because he is filling the Chiefs’ roster with guys who are not big names in the free agent market. I am good with that because free agency can suck an NFL franchise dry. We need guys who can play and are a little under the radar. The salary cap can destroy a team.
• I am getting a little nervous about whether Royals infielders Alcides Escobar and Omar Infante have arms that can survive the entire season. If you cannot throw, it is very hard to play the middle infield positions in the big leagues.
• Once again the Kansas City area did not bring home the big class title in boys or girls high school basketball. I will be glad when that trend stops.
• My quote of the week comes from Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle: “The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.”
Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 5-6 p.m. every Thursday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org