Recruiting: When is Enough, Enough?

Billy Peterson
Staff Writer

 

 

 

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is one of the greatest athletes and basketball players of all time. From his venomous slam dunks to the way he can simply take over a game, he is a rare talent. However, it seems he has passed his athletic gene on. His son, LeBron James Jr., may also be in a class of his own one day.

Due to his talents, LeBron Jr. is already being recruited by various colleges. He is just 10 years old. James Sr. is not too thrilled about this.

Before a Cavaliers game on Tuesday, James told reporters, “It’s pretty crazy. It should be a violation. You shouldn’t be recruiting 10 year old kids.”

He may have a point. Is 10 years old too young to start recruiting athletes? At what age should schools be allowed to recruit their next wave of talent?

While many parents may share James’ stance on this issue, there are just as many who would welcome a recruit to their son’s little league game. In fact, some parents are actually going out of their way to make this possible.

Okay, maybe parents are not driving their kids three hours away on a beautiful weekend to play in some expensive AAU tournament in the hopes that scouts will be there, but that’s the eventual goal, is it not?

With college tuitions rising, families are relying increasingly on scholarships to get their children through college. Any little bit of money that can be received for a student to play a sport is welcomed with open arms.

So I would argue that many parents would welcome a recruiter into the stands of their daughter’s hockey game. Not to have the recruiter breathe down their young child’s neck, or ask them questions about the future that they are just too young to answer, but to allow them to watch their daughter play.

If the recruiter likes what he sees, maybe he keeps tabs on the child’s athletic achievements and comes back in a few years when she is in high school. The child, quite honestly, doesn’t even have to know that there is a school or schools that have been attending a few of her games, should the parents not want her to know.

However, it is easy to understand where James is coming from when it comes to this issue. Ten years old is really young, and a child should be allowed to play the game for fun and learn the game itself, before the pressure of colleges and college scouts comes into play. Of course, in James’ case, he really has nothing to worry about. Barring any unforeseen occurrence, it would appear that his son is primed for a big time hoops career, should he desire it.

When a kid is that young, or really if he/she is below the ninth grade, it should be the parent’s decision on whether or not a recruiter can watch their child play. It should be cleared with them first. Since James has made it clear he thinks his son’s too young, stop sending the letters, stop sending the recruits.

Some people want to argue that LeBron did this to himself because he posted a video of his son on social media. I think that is overanalyzing the situation. James is simply just a proud father. When was the last time you went on Facebook and didn’t see a picture, video, status or anything from some parents who weren’t proud of their son or daughter?

It is not as if this sort of thing has not happened before, and the NCAA actually has rules to govern the act of recruiting a child who has not started or completed classes for the ninth grade. Ideally, when referring to someone as young as 10 years old, the decision should be with the parent. Alas, that would create a variety of other issues.

The NCAA gets a bad rep, and in many ways it is deserved. However, there are many matters such as this one where they have to navigate a very fine line. Either way, James will not be able to hold off the college scouts forever, his son really is that talented.

Billy Peterson can be reached at wpeterson@springfieldcollege.edu

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