This summer has begun like a blaze of glory, literally.
I usually write about the importance of heat safety measures at the end July or the first of August when the high school sports season gets under way. The heat came in quickly with a dangerous heat index nearly every day.
Make sure you drink all the proper liquids and avoid heavy physical activity in the heat of the day. Hopefully the early heat will allow fall high school athletes to become better acclimated to the heat as fall practices begin in August.
The last couple of years I have been approached by a lot of parents and grandparents about the selection process by high school coaches for their programs. There have been some accusations that players may have been selected based upon which competition team they belonged to during the offseason rather than their level of ability.
Competition teams and leagues begin as early as age 5. These teams are typically select teams with all the bells and whistles, i.e. multiple uniforms and a lot of travel. It has become a way of life in youth sports in this country.
You do not have to be involved in a sport to see how it has consumed families. I have a 9-year-old granddaughter in competitive dance. She travels all over the country to compete in regional and national competitions. The costumes alone could finance a small country. I have come to realize that this is the way it works.
The days of a three-sport athlete are over. It is all about putting all your eggs in one basket with all your time, dedication and resources committed to a single activity. I do not believe high school sports/activities should be determined by the most popular or successful competition team.
Three different conversations with parents and grandparents from various locations in the metropolitan area and various sports revealed to me that students were cut from teams because they were not a part of “the right” competition team.
As early as 25 years ago, youth sports began to transition. Adults involved in the youth sports industry seized an opportunity to make a lot of money by convincing players and parents that competitive and travel teams were the road to stardom. It has become a turkey shoot for families to choose the right team and have the right team choose them.
At least in high school it’s not a choice – you are a part of your high school team, period. I have, and will continue, to defend high school coaches. Most are very committed to the welfare of their student athletes.
However, when I hear similar complaints from more than one source I have begun to consider that there may be some truth to the allegations. High school sports and activities are competitive, but outside sources should not determine which students should be a part of a team.
High school coaches have every right to choose to be a part of their team, but the evaluation should be made through tryouts during the high school season. It is likely that athletes who participate year-round in any activity may be more skilled and experienced, but to make an exclusion due to lack of participation on a select team cannot be justified.
High school coaches should not be pressured by any organization to follow that protocol. High school sports are not intramural. High school sports are highly competitive. The best kids from high schools should have the opportunity to play if they have the ability.
I hope the situations that I learned about are isolated. High school sports are financed by taxes paid by all. Every student should have an equal opportunity to participate at their school and legitimately compete for a spot on the team.
High school coaches need to take the high road and make the right choices when putting their teams together. High school sports are still an area where a group can come together as a team. I would hate to see that change.
• My quote this week is from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenges and controversy.”
– 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) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.