by Dan Gougherty
Elk Grove News. Net
Like most people in our culture, I am interested in sports and have my favorite professional and college teams. Although I would consider myself a fair-weather fan, or more accurately someone who gets tuned-in when the playoffs start, I am still amazed at how deep sports is ingrained in our culture.
I was reminded of this earlier this week when I read on this site, with some amazement, about the revelations that two of our Elk Grove-area high schools were sanctioned for recruiting violations. Substitute Cosumnes Oaks and Sheldon High with USC or Ohio State, or pick the NCAA-sanctioned college of your choice, and the stories become almost interchangeable.
Has the win-at-any-cost mentality that is pervasive in every aspect of American professional sports, big time college sports, business and politics finally infiltrated the next level of amateur sports, high school athletics? Are our high schools now becoming nothing more than a further extension of de-facto farm leagues already firmly established on the college level?
I can’t help but think that the coaches, athletes, the parents and maybe even the school administrators had some knowledge they were breaking the rules, yet decided in some sort of cost-risk analysis the potential benefits outweighed the risk. We after all live in a society where the 5,000 or so professional athletes in the four major American sports can make millions of dollars and in some case be worshipped like gods.
Even though the odds are long, I can’t help but think that some parent of a talented kid will be willing to ignore the rules on the belief their kid is the next LeBron James. Or worse, some high school coach will recruit the best players at any cost, especially to the young athletes used for the coaches purposes, hoping it will make them the next Nick Sabin?
Sadly this win-at-any-cost mentality has seemingly gained a strong foothold in our high school athletic departments and is probably here to stay.