When it comes to high school athletics, I’m old school and make no apologies for it. During my years at Swain County and later West Rowan, you lived in a community and you attended the school where your home was.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Yes, I know, times are different. Kids, and more often their parents, are driven to look for the best deal, the best opportunity.
Sometimes it’s for a good reason, like improved educational opportunities. But when it’s solely for sports, especially basketball, which seems to be the prime game where it’s done, I tend to raise an eyebrow as to why. They move around from school to school to find the best athletic situation for a youngster they think is the next LeBron James.
I had a great conversation recently with Homar Ramirez Jr., head of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association. He shared this observation with me: “It’s just a matter of the climate of athletics as a whole, the expectations of our coaches, expectations parents have on their kids, and I’d call those unrealistic. But that’s not unique to us.’’
He’s absolutely right. It goes to the highest levels of sports, like the NBA, where we see the top stars congregating to one team.
Michael Wilbon, who appears on the ESPN show “Pardon The Interruption,” nailed it recently when he talked about this trend of stars flocking together. He blamed it on what he called “massive egos and the AAU mentality.’’
I couldn’t agree more. It’s all about individual stardom and glory. Sports is supposed to be about teamwork, pulling together, all the oars rowing in sync, no matter if the arm doing the rowing is heavily muscled or a little flabby, or if the skin on that arm is black, white, red or yellow.
Maybe it’s time for the parents who have their kids on the superstar track to skip high school sports and just let their children play for AAU teams, where the big concern is working on your dunks and your crossover and looking good for the college coaches, who rarely darken high school gyms anymore.
Let’s leave high school athletics for the kids and coaches who work hard, play together, develop teamork and other skills that will serve them well in life.
• Congratulations to a number of Cumberland County baseball stars who have either signed college offers or will shortly.
Heading the list is Terry Sanford’s Christian Jayne, who will commit to East Carolina in a ceremony today in the media center at Terry Sanford.
Jayne is enjoying an outstanding year as the quarterback for Terry Sanford, but baseball is his first love.
Last season he was 4-0 with a 1.21 earned run average. He had 18 strikeouts in 17.1 innings.
He was also one of the county’s top hitters with a .373 average, leading the county in hits with 31. He had seven doubles, two homers and drove in 17 runs.
A trio of Jack Britt players signed last Friday. Brennen Herbert chose Appalachian State, Nick Lee picked Wake Tech and Brendan Shea chose Peace.
Herbert batted .337 with 29 hits and 25 RBIs.
Lee was 3-4 as a pitcher with a 1.43 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 44 innings.
Shea was 1-3 as a pitcher with a 4.33 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 21 innings.