If you’re a sports fan, then you’re already familiar with the disgusting story surrounding Bishop Sycamore, a high school that might (or might not) actually exist that has a football team made up of players who might (or might not) be high school age.
A few days ago, the BS scandal became national news after the team played two games in three days, one of them against a nationally ranked program with its own questionable ethical compass.
BS has no physical location. It’s not sanctioned by the high school sports governing body in its state. It’s now former coach is a man with lingering legal problems. Some of its players appear too old to be playing at the high school level. I could go on, but you get the idea: BS is indeed BS.
Yet someone bamboozled someone else and, presto, BS was suddenly on ESPN — yet a third organization with dubious ethics — playing a football game against IMG. Is IMG a mere victim here, caught up in a tempest in which it’s guilt free? Uh, no.
Let’s not mince words about IMG: It exists because families want their kids there to play all kinds of sports against other super-talented teenagers, knowing their sons and daughters are elevating their chances at an college athletic scholarship. Put another way, IMG is the Harvard of high school athletics: A whole lot of smart kids go to Harvard, and a whole lot of athletically talented kids go to IMG.
Much like Harvard, IMG is not accepting the average Joe and Emma; unless your kid has exceptional talent, he or she is not welcomed at IMG. (Spare me whatever propaganda the institution wishes to publish suggesting it’s eager to help all aspiring college athletes while also guaranteeing they have a normal high school experience.)
Just what America needs: Nationally ranked high schools based on their sports prowess.
The ragtag BS team was hammered by the elite IMG team, as expected. But the BSer who BSd someone to ensure BS could get on national television was left to answer a lot of questions. Of course, the BSer wouldn’t come forward because, well you know, once a scammer is identified, he or she tends to race to the seamy, rat-infested shadows where they belong.
But there’s a bigger and more uncomfortable reality here as we attempt to figure out “how could this happen!” High school sports is now a business, and a whole lot of people and companies want a piece of the financial pie. Some of these individuals might be guided by ethics, but too many of them are not. All of the companies, including ESPN, are in it for money. Please don’t argue that point with me.
Gone are the days when the consistently successful local high school programs dominated because — well, you know — they recruited. Now, parents are consistently told that their kid can get national attention (NATIONAL ATTENTION!) if they send or transfer their kid into that big-brand school.
Thankfully, those teenagers have those young and limber bodies, so there’s no reason to worry that placing them in situations in which they must prove their athletic abilities in order to stick around will do any harm. No. And those kids are all mentally strong, so there’s no reason to think they’ll fall prey to self-doubt or question if they want to continue engaging in sports at such a level. No. After all, they’re so LUCKY to be so physically gifted!
Be a kid? When there’s a college athletic scholarship on the line? When those kids hear that some other player is doing that one more rep or working out just one more minute? When they are reminded every single day that those profe$$ional dreams are so close?
Put it all together and ESPN cannot ignore its role in the BS fiasco. It wants — and can — monetize high school sports programming. It’s corrupting the notion that high school kids ought to have four years to — dare I say — be normal teenagers.
IMG is responsible, too. It — under the image-saving promise of wanting to educate — is a sports factory. It exists to put teenagers in hyper-competitive athletic environments.
And, yes, any parent who lives vicariously through their sons and daughters also is responsible. Let’s be blunt: If you’re a-ok with your child becoming your possible meal ticket, then you must rethink your values.
The next level of sports to corrupt: Youth sports. You know if such jerks could conceive of a way to make lots of money off little Joey and little Emma playing, they would. I fear they’re already thinking about it.