In the Crease: The Recruiting Controversy in Sports: How Young Is Too Young?

In the Crease: The Recruiting Controversy in Sports: How Young Is Too Young?

In his regular Saturday column, lacrosse analyst Dan Fleuette discusses and comments on the latest news from the world of lacrosse. Be sure to check this space every Saturday at Breitbart Sports for incisive analysis and news of all things lacrosse. 

A Wild One in Syracuse

Since this game was only televised locally, I had to watch it via Twitter feed at Dave and Busters with Giles and a couple of wound up kids.

While navigating an endless barrage of video games sounds and over-stimulated kids, and in between margaritas (surprisingly yummy), the Twitter feed update from this high-scoring game was coming at me faster than the zombies I was trying to destroy on the video screen.

For the second year in a row, fans were treated to a fast paced slug-fest that eventually made its way into overtime.

Albany’s dynamic trio of Lyle, Miles, and Ty Thompson attack machine showed that they didn’t miss a beat from last year’s breakout season. The three combined for 14 points but came up just short in a 17-16 loss.

Syracuse middie Henry Schoonmaker scored just 28 seconds into the overtime period, on a feed from transfer Randy Staats (Onandaga Community College) to end the game. Staats, in only his second Division I game came away with seven points (5 goals 2 assists). He also played both midfield and attack. Staats is clearly a big part of the Syracuse plan to make it back to the title game again this year, and someone to watch as the season progresses.

For the effort, Syracuse also came away with the #1 ranking in the coaches poll. This is up from #2 last week. (They’re ranked #2 in the Warrior Media Poll).

You can watch highlights of the game here.

Committed – The Documentary

Alex Weber, former Academic All-American lacrosse player at the University of Pennsylvania, and Rob Mor, his producing partner at Beast Entertainment, teamed up to make a feature documentary called Committed. The film extols the virtue of hard work, dedication, and practice on the lacrosse field and how that can translate to success on and off the field.

The Committed website says, “College Lacrosse is a lifestyle. College Lacrosse is a community. College Lacrosse is an opportunity. Watch 4 Recruits fight for a college bid in front of every single D1 Coach in this epic Lacrosse Documentary from All-American and UPenn Division 1 Player, Alex Weber.”

Alex knows a thing or two about lacrosse. Since graduating college after a successful athletic career, Alex moved out to Los Angeles, and has immersed himself in the film industry, working on blockbuster Hollywood films like Dumb and Dumber, and appearing on Funny or Die, and Tosh.0.

So it came as a surprise when he found himself thrust into the head coaching job at Harvard Westlake High School in Los Angeles, where he had been an assistant the year before. Alex has a passion for the sport, and got his team to buy in to his program, where he won both the California Championship as a #6 seed, bringing with it Coach of The Year honors from US Lacrosse.

That passion shows in their film, which follows four hungry high school lacrosse players as they compete in front of some of the top college coaches in the game at Maverik Showtime Lacrosse, which is akin to the NFL Combine for high school sophomores and juniors. For the players, this is a chance to be noticed and recruited to a top-level NCAA program, which is a lifelong dream for many of these kids, and in many ways, represents that pinnacle of achievement for lacrosse players.

The film is less about recruiting and more about the love of the game. As in any large group, it reflects a microcosm of society, and some stories you wouldn’t expect on a lacrosse field.

There’s Nigel Andrews, a player from Harlem, not thought of as a lacrosse hotbed, who got the bug to play when he was in third grade. It says a lot about the growth of the sport that Nigel was able to find a program in the city where he could develop his game. And there’s Goalie Joe Morgan has had to overcome the skepticism of his father, an African immigrant, who doesn’t see lacrosse as a vehicle for success.

The power of Committed is that it transcends the game of lacrosse and stands as a testament to the human power of desire, heart, hard work, and making the most of your abilities.

Speaking of Recruiting…

An article in the Baltimore Sun frets about college programs recruiting high school players at too young of an age.

I see this happen in the bigger sports like football and basketball all the time. And while this can create a lot of pressure on young players, these are sports that thrive on competition and pressure.

It’s also a marketplace. Kids want to play in big-time college programs because it can open up the world to them. Coaches want big-time talent in their programs, because wins buys tickets, keeps the fans and alumni happy, which helps them keep their jobs.

The athletes offer a service for a product, in this case a college scholarship. If they’re talented enough, and are offered a scholarship by an elite school, why wouldn’t they take it? Likewise, if a program wants a player before another school grabs him or her up, well, in the free market, they’re allowed to make an offer on that player and try to do what’s right for the team.

Surely this doesn’t always work out – coaches take risks on players, players take risks on programs. Nobody knows what will happen in three or four years when the player gets to college. But the same is true in the NFL, NBA, and with the contractor I hired to build my house. I don’t know if it’s going to work out the way it’s drawn up on paper, but I gather my information, do my research, get referrals, and in the end hope that it all adds up to a good decision. These are the things of life.

The article mostly worries about whether the kids are mature enough to handle the pressure, and that there aren’t enough regulations from the NCAA to control who can get recruited by which coaches at which time. This is a good thing.

There are no manuals that can determine what is best for all. I relate this to subsidiarity, the idea that decisions should be handled at the lowest level possible. These decisions are best made by parents and their coaches, not regulations from an organization. If the parent feels that their son or daughter just can’t handle the pressures, then they should be the ones to regulate who talks to their child and when.

You can read the article here.

The Intellectual Cyclops

In the order of things in the universe, a referee’s job has to be somewhere between the hanging out with Satan and Judas in Dante’s 8th circle of hell and the guy who follows behind the horses in a parade with a bucket and a shovel.

When refs decide games with bad calls, (like this travesty) they rightfully incur their fair share of scorn from fans, and are second only to lawyers as the butt of jokes (if that ref had another eye, he’d be a Cyclops).

Refs do however, take their craft very seriously.

The Atlanta Lacrosse Official is one of several sites created for lacrosse officials, but are also interesting for fans who want to learn more about how officials think, call fouls, manage games, and keep the game flowing. ALO bills itself as a resource for officials looking to “break into the game of Lacrosse and to provide experienced officials resources that would allow them to hone their craft.”

It seems counter-intuitive, but when you see a lot of yellow flags on a play, the inclination is to believe that the refs got the right call, after all, they all saw it, and they all called it. In a post on the site, they’ll tell you that observation is incorrect.

“Many officials work under the misconception that when both throw flags for the same foul, they got it right. With but few exceptions, nothing could be further from the truth! If both officials are looking at the ball who is looking at the other players!”

When a ref hands your team a loss with a terrible call, no amount of blood-letting will make you feel better, but maybe you’ll have a deeper understanding of what refs go through and how they approach their work.

Read more here.

Denver Broncos’ Orlando Franklin Spends Off-Season at Lacrosse Game

Denver Broncos offensive lineman, calling lacrosse “a great sport”, waxes philosophical about losing the Super Bowl, playing with Peyton Manning, growing up in Toronto, and why he decided to check out a National Lacrosse League game in his hometown for the first time.

News, Notes, and Remainders:

10 Things Native Americans Do Better Than You, starting with lacrosse.

Top 25 Players in DI Lacrosse, according to Quint Kessinich at Inside Lacrosse.

Game of the Week:

#5 Maryland at #2 Syracuse.

ACC looms large here. This is Syracuse’s inaugural ACC game, and marks the last season as an ACC team for Maryland.

Games On Tap here.

PHOTO: From Committed the movie.

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