Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

April 18, 2014

Morgan:The new endangered species

By Ron Morgan
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Am I just that old, or have amateur athletics gone absolutely nuts these days? On second thought, don’t answer that unless it’s yes to the nuts part.

High School and college basketball are on the verge of being totally ruined by AAU basketball. Top roundball prospects are identified by the junior high level if not earlier.

Many of these AAU “coaches” are more like agents in sheep’s clothing. These “coaches” control who gets to talk to their players. They carry more weight than their high school coaches, and college coaches are at their mercy. I’m looking for some serious rule changes regarding AAU basketball from the NCAA.

Myles Turner, a 6’11” high school player from Euless Trinity is the second ranked basketball recruit in the entire country. Would you like to see Coach K, or Coach Self, maybe John Calipari or Kevin Ollie live and in person? Show up for a Trinity High School game, or better yet, watch the young phenom’s AAU games. Chances are one, if not all, will be there.

It’s not just basketball. I talked to a lady this morning whose grandson is a young starting quarterback in this area at a Class 6A high school.

His current schedule is to work out with a quarterback coach at 6:00 a.m. followed by weight work at his high school fieldhouse.

After school, there is more weight work followed by a passing session with wide receivers.

Oh, he has been to all the obligatory quarterback camps, and this summer may take a charter flight to Florida with other area quarterbacks to visit campuses in that state.

If you think other sports are immune, think again, Kemosabe.  

Have you ever heard of select baseball teams, select volleyball teams or select soccer teams.

Some people tend to think that “select” means that their child is extra special in the talent department. Sorry, that may be one of the definitions according to Webster, but look further. Somewhere down the list, I feel certain you will find a definition of “select” as pertaining to the spending of large sums of money, as in select a check for several hundred dollars for your child to play.

“Select” teams can’t have some dad from down the street who played first base (or mid fielder or sand volleyball) at Po Dunk High School coaching the team. Often, and here soccer is the biggest offender, coaches are hired from Europe. You don’t leave Ireland to coach in Plano for peanuts. As near as I can tell, if European coaches can deal with fans behind chain link and moats, they can handle soccer moms in Escalades.

Many times, select soccer and volleyball players don’t even play for their high school teams. You can’t have your investment ruined by a “high school” coach. Besides, high school teams might have to play in Ennis or Corsicana when they could be playing in LA or Orlando.

My granddaughter just turned 10 years old. She could be a clone of my daughter. Well, Peyton is a pretty good golfer at this stage of her life (obviously getting her looks from her mother, and her talent from her Pawpaw). She decided a few weeks ago to play volleyball. Was it because she had watched it in the Olympics or even at Byron Nelson High School? Not exactly. She chose to play volleyball because one of her best friends played. She played in the first volleyball game she ever saw.

Now, four games into her newest sports endeavor, she is playing well. By that I mean she can serve it over the net. I would place the odds at about 80% that if you get the serve over the net, you score a point (if the other team returns the serve, the odds go up to about 98% that they get a point).

Peyton looks adorable in her Itsy Bitsy Spiker’s uniform.  She obviously has the DNA to be a superstar thanks to my side of the family, but she’s still working on figuring out where to rotate to when the serve moves to her side of the net.

Well, she has already been invited to join a select volleyball team. When she discovered that they practice two nights a week, and play on the road on weekends, she had two questions? Will I still have time to play golf? And, will I have time to play with my friends?    

Kids need to be able to have a childhood. Schools have eliminated a lot of childhood already. With a paucity of recess during the school day, the standardizing of the classroom to prepare for standardized testing, and the overload of homework brought on by the fear of said test, a lot of what we knew as childhood has gone the way of free range cattle grazing in Nevada. In fact, childhood may be more endangered than tortoises on federal land.

Maybe I am old. Well actually, there is no maybe to it. However, I think we need a little sanity back in athletics. If not, our kids may be tired of athletics before they can ever get started. Next thing we know, the AFL-CIO will be trying to organize kids’ sports below the college level. I’d hate to see the Itsy Bitsy Spikers picketing the Roanoke Activity Center.  Forget tortoises and snail darters, youth athletics might show up on the endangered species list.