Thursday, July 06, 2006

Be True to Your Travel Team

Here's an interesting article about Renardo Sydney, one of the top 15 prep basketball players in the country. What makes him kind of unique is that he's managed to get this ranking without playing high school basketball. Yup, Sydney plays all his hoops for AAU teams.

While Sydney's an extreme case, he's another example of how these independent teams have supplanted high school programs as a breeding ground for college players. Increasingly, high school baseball, basketball and soccer teams are playing second fiddle to AAU or other "travel teams," as parents desperately try to position their kids for college athletic scholarships.

This starts very early. In my own experience, I've seen most of the talented kids abandon Little League or other local programs for travel teams by the time they're 10 years old. In his comments on my post about CYO's new minimum playing time requirements, Mike noted that a big part of the debate over those rules was the extent to which coaches perceived CYO teams as feeders to high school programs. Again, my own experience suggests that aside from sports like football (where the travel team culture hasn't taken hold), CYO teams are not a major source of players even for Catholic high schools. They may have been when we were growing up, but today, it's the travel squads that provide the talent for most high school teams.

High school coaches have encouraged and cultivated these teams. I know, for example, that most of the area's elite high school girls soccer programs pull their players almost entirely from the Premier League travel clubs, and that high school coaches often establish close ties with one or more of those clubs.

It used to be that wearing a high school varsity uniform was the dream of almost every kid who played sports--but getting there wasn't a full time job. You played football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the winter. You dreamed of playing for your high school, but you played because each sport was fun and competing was fun. Today, in order to play on a high school teams, players find themselves tracked into an often joyless travel team ghetto filled with year-round drudgery and slavish devotion to a single sport. Where's the fun in that?

So, I guess it's a little ironic that the monster that high school coaches helped to create is now coming back to bite them. Renardo Sydney's example suggests that the travel teams are now starting to say to their players, "hey, what's your high school team going to do for you?" I'd have a good laugh over the high schools' plight, but I think it's really a shame for the players. After all, despite the title of this post, The Beach Boys never sang a song about anybody's travel team.


chocolate starfish said...

Well, whatever. I've always wondered why Sansabelt pants aren't more popular. Sure, they're inextricably intertwined with the whole 70s polyester craze, which no doubt impacts their coolness, but expanding pants just makes good sense. You could make them in denim or khaki or whatever. I would wear them.

Hornless Rhino said...

Actually, you're just flat out wrong.

The truth is that Sansabelt pants remain incredibly popular, and are one of the great success stories in men's fashions.

Can a waistband change the way men buy pants? Few people thought it possible, but that is just what happened in 1959 when Jaymar-Ruby introduced the patented Sansabelt waistband. Its unique triple zone, triple-action elastic webbing finally offered men everywhere the style they wanted and the comfort they craved.

Sansabelt still features the comfort-fit waistband you've obviously grown to love, but Sansabelt has introduced new looks and innovations designed to appeal even more to today's active man. Like new high-performance fabrics that move with your every move. Sleek, updated silhouettes. And up to the minute colors and patterns. Sansabelt provides everything you need to look great and feel comfortable.

Of course, Sansabelt has never lost site of its mission: to provide you with a waistband that feels as good after your second piece of cheesecake as it did before you took your first bite of the shrimp cocktail.

Uncle June said...

No boss would wear Sansabelt. My little nephew is a different story.