Kat's Pause: The Ramifications Of Recruiting

By: Kat Szmit

Topics: School Sports

Kat Szmit Photo

Since joining the fray here in the Lower Cape, I've heard numerous rumors about head coaches that use local youth clinics and programs to “recruit” players to the high schools they coach at. I'm here to encourage that to stop.

I have many reasons for this, but let me start with a clear conflict of interest. If you're a coach at a particular high school and are holding clinics or youth programs in the town of another school district, well, that is what it is. But if you're using the clinics to encourage young players to attend the school you coach at, which isn't their local school, that's wrong.

First, it's an abuse of your position. It could even be seen as you stacking the proverbial deck by trying to funnel the best players into your own program. That goes against MIAA recruitment rules – “To maintain a proper relationship between the academic mission of schools and their athletic programs, all individuals in any way affiliated with a school must refrain from recruitment, inducement, or other forms of persuasion which would encourage an athlete to enroll in, or transfer to, a school.”

It also makes it difficult for students. Already faced with an overwhelming array of decisions in today's School Choice environment, having a coach attempt to lure them toward a particular institution puts a good deal of pressure on them. Do they choose to follow the offer of promises that may or may not be kept or show support for the school that's in their district by becoming an integral member of that team? That's a decision for students and their parents and, unless you're a private school administrator falling under a different set of rules, not coaches.

Another reason the potential recruiting is wrong is that it can foster an atmosphere of bullying. I've seen it unfold on social media more than once. A student is wooed to a school in a different district with promises of athletic stardom, only to get mostly benched. Meanwhile, online, a raging war of words explodes, ending friendships that were once lifelong.

The recruitment rumors also have me wondering something: aren't the athletes already in your school district good enough? If not, instead of looking elsewhere, why not try to improve the skills of those already at your school?

Wanting a high school team to succeed is awesome. It's what all good coaches want. But trying to make that happen at the expense of the students in your programs isn't a plus for anyone, especially not the athletes you hope to coach.

This is high school. It's not the NBA, the NFL, or even the NCAA. If you're a coach running a youth clinic or summer program, great. Go for it. Share your skills and impart your wisdom, and let the athletes decide where they want to play and who they want to play for when the time comes. It's only fair.