In the ever-increasing money making machine that is college athletics, social media has played just as big of a role in the plight of society as we know it. Perhaps the phenomenon of verbal pledges should be eradicated to some degree. But there’s a certain responsibility that these high school students have to fan-bases. Kids may or may not be viewed as legal adults, but we teach our kids to “act as if” right? So how’s this any different?
So there’s various signing periods for different sports and it’s not unforeseen that players pick schools in the summer before attending, but that’s usually not with the highest of recruits. Blue-chip recruits get the whole nine yards of welcoming from various colleges and universities to play sports (most notably football and basketball). They get free girls, free gear, and shit ton of fan admiration. So there’s the ego-boosting from fans to the kids that makes it a problem and then there’s the self-boasting from within their own camps that build up a persona that is manifested on social media.
Unfortunately, some of the bigger recruits fail to find fits early on in the process. Sometimes they do find a place that feels like home. And because National Signing Day doesn’t happen the second the kids make their decision, nor does it happen the first second they are offered scholarships, they are left to make verbal commitments. These commitments are a problem. And some kids take it to a new level when abusing the system.
As a die-hard college sports fan I have my allegiance to a university. And in this particular situation a young man made a pitch for a team that he had committed to. He made a play for several others to come to the same school. He repeated his commitment to the state (not just the team). And then when the time came to make his decision (we’re assuming it’s a final one), he flipped to another school and compared himself to MLK on MLK Day. A little much? I think so.
Now there’s been worse displays in past seasons and one player doesn’t make a whole recruiting class, even for my team. But there’s a bigger picture that’s not being valued when considering these commitments. Because the word commitment means “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc”. Is that not a virtuous thing to learn? Are we teaching kids that they can do what they want and still get fed when it comes down to it? I mean that really is how athletes are treated in this country, but if you start early then maybe they figure out how not to act in the long run.
Luckily, there are loyal kids that make decisions that last a lifetime. Not everyone will play their chosen sport professionally and some will figure that out when they have to do their own homework (assuming they don’t go to SMU or North Carolina). Being held to your word is something adults have happen on the regular and coming through on that word is all some people have. Living and learning is great if you actually learn from your mistakes, but the way the system is set up right now prepares these kids for failure whether they have it in them to improve as individuals or not.