Look at me, everyone!
Yes, it’s that time of year. Wednesday’s National Letter Of Intent Day is the epicenter of the high school “superstar’s” self-indulgence. The moment where we as fans contribute to the self-centered entitlement many complain about being the rue of modern-day sports.
From the time the first bell rings at a high-school-to-be-named-later somewhere in the Eastern Time Zone, til the last regionally televised programming dedicated to this sideshow airs somewhere in the Pacific Time Zone, today’s 3, 4, and 5-star athletes will be putting on hats, exposing t-shirts, and giving speeches regarding where they plan to spend the next 4 to 5 years of their life, playing a game that defines others’.
What started as a shell game (A table with 3 hats, one of which a prized recruit will put atop his head at the moment of truth), has become an arena for soon-to-be scholarship athletes’ to one-up those before them with new and creative ways to make one fan base’s day, while simultaneously clowning the ones left in their wake. Whether it’s putting on a hat, peeling off an outer layer to expose a shirt, or any of the myriad of awkward presentations I’ve witnessed over the years, recruits will be doing something and various networks will be happy to put that something on the air. ESPNU will have all-day coverage, Fox Sports and Comcast will break-in for live “decisions,” and message boards aplenty will endure a continual refresh from dawn to dusk, while their patrons wait anxiously for the signatures of the 18-year-old kids on the cusp of changing the lives…of one lucky fan base.
To an extent I get it; I’m one of those freaks who spends the better part of my Fall Saturdays sucking every ounce of enjoyment from the college football game, and understand the importance of recruiting to bottom-line success. But I don’t and never will be a fan of self-promotion in a team game, and National Signing Day has become a platform for burgeoning myopians to announce their presence in a world revolving around them.
From day one, many of these incoming freshmen are told their special. Their talent has separated them from the majority of their peers and people around them have treated them accordingly. They’re afforded things most are not and due to such spawn a level of entitlement most on the periphery of this world later despise. It begins in adolescence, continues as teens, and peaks during these young adults most formidable years. We build them up, promote their exceptionality, then later complain about their egomania. It’s a process, and much of it starts in high school gyms coast-to-coast.
People follow recruiting nearly year-round. Just a couple of months removed from tomorrows “big day,” next year’s crop of high school studs will begin going to camps, taking trips, and making nonbinding commitments to colleges desperate for their services. Websites designed around this process will cover it, subscribers to said websites will keep their fingers on its’ pulse, and the very kids which it all revolves around will immerse themselves in it, in the very way it allows them to do. They’re rock stars of our creation, then we complain when they act as rock stars do.
I enjoy following recruiting. I understand its importance to winning and as a fan wish my team’s success in regards to personnel, but I don’t need to see it played out on television and despise what’s resulted due to it doing just that. Take trips, choose a school, and fax your letter-of-intent on the morning of the big day kids. This should be a proud moment for you, and a prouder moment for the parents responsible for helping you get here…it doesn’t need to be the greasy sideshow it’s become.