Friday, June 10, 2011

The Reality of Sports Recruiting

With my recent post on Colorado high school sports, and the recent implosion of the Ohio State University football program from recruiting violations, I am wondering about the ethics of sports recruiting - at all levels. Certainly, as someone asked, there's not necessarily anything wrong with schools - even high schools - reaching out to students with athletic talents and encouraging them to attend a specific school. My argument about high school is simply that it is against all state high school athletic codes - and private schools are often criticized for sports success when they can be selective about their students. Thus, I wouldn't necessarily argue that there is anything wrong with recruiting, as long as all schools are allowed to do so.

Should high schools be allowed to contact sixth graders about athletic programs? How about offering athletes preferential treatment or guarantees. Private schools can waive tuition based on financial need - but should they be able to waive tuition just based on athletics - or any talent for that matter. Certainly, some private schools already waive tuition for athletes, as that is a common sanction against private schools - providing illegal tuition assistance. Because public schools can't do that, would it be wrong for them to allow perks such as choice schedules or parking places or access to events or private tutoring or anything really? Would that be OK?

At the college level, people have long talked about paying athletes. An argument is that these young athletes are being exploited by the universities. Of course, the reverse is true. The athletes are exploiting the universities for access and exposure. And, if schools do begin paying athletes, they must give up their tax exempt status, which is based on an "educational mission." Many people they should already give up that status, considering the billions of dollars in TV revenue they already accrue.

It's a good question.

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