Jeff Kagan : ACES Sports
Summer in America is a very important time for student-athletes. It’s not a time to goof off and relax, not if you want to win. Summer is a time to take your game to a new level, hone your craft and establish chemistry with your teammates and coaches.
The summer is a time when students are normally off from school and have the freedom to choose how they will spend their time. Free time in the summer months for Students age 14 – 18 is not always a good thing. Some will find the wrong things to do to pass the time, which can have long lasting implications. Others will work in an attempt to save enough money for a car or to help pay for college. It’s hard to argue with this. They are setting goals and finding ways to achieve those goals. However, for athletes 2-3 months off in the summer is time to get better. Better academically, physically and athletically. High school athletes everywhere are working hard to get better every day. Every workout, every training session is a step towards reaching their goals.
If a student wants to get better at any given activity, then they will need to put the work in. If you plan to participate in a spelling bee, you study. If you plan to participate in basketball, you play basketball. It’s as simple as that. Yes, I think there needs to be some balance, and yes, they all need to find a way to add a little reading into their summer, but if they are student athletes, they need to do the things that athletes do to get better, train.
Don’t ask me about the lost innocence of the youth of today. Give me a break. Stop envisioning a child walking down a dirt road with a fishing pole kicking a can, or skipping rocks in a pond. Those lazy days of summer are not for high school student athletes who are driven towards success. Those days are over.
We live in a competitive time in a very competitive world. Quite frankly, as a society, we have gotten lazy. It starts with youth sports and activities. This whole thing about everyone wins and everyone get’s a trophy is bad for our country. Yes, bad for our country! This practice teaches a socialistic approach to life. That is not America, and not the competitive world we live in. Only one person will get promoted into that management position several people might be working towards. Let’s teach them at an early age to reach for there goals competitively, and that it’s okay to win. I remember winning a trophy for First place in Basketball when I was 12. One of the best things about that experience was going to the awards dinner at the end of the season and getting called up to receive my trophy in front of all my peers. I won; my 7 teammates and I got the trophy that year, and the others kids in the league did not. It felt good to be rewarded for our efforts; to be one of 8 winners. Winning is good, and it feels good. There’s nothing wrong with that. My peers who did not achieve their goal that season but got something that night as well. They got a delicious spaghetti dinner and the visual memory of me with the first place trophy. Hopefully they came away with the motivation to be there next year with the first place trophy. That’s the way it was. That’s the way it should be. Not everyone can win all the time. Life is difficult and it is survival of the fittest. Do everything you can to be the fittest. That’s a healthy attitude. As coaches, we are trying to prepare our players to be successful. It’s a simple solution: set goals, work hard, and do everything you can to achieve your goals.
Team sports require a high percentage of like-minded hard working teammates. Winning team’s have an “ALL IN” approach to the off-season. They become a band of brothers (or sisters) committed to being the best. They set personal goals and team goals, and they do not take summers off.
High School football was recently criticized in my local paper (Press Journal – Scripts Newspapers) for the amount of time players are being asked to participate in summer workouts. Not only do they have workouts, but also have 7-on-7 tournaments, college recruiting camps, and team camps. It was discussed in the Press Journal article, that there are varying opinions (school to school) regarding how much coaches pressure kids to participate in the summer workout programs. Coaches are under enormous pressure to win. They need to prepare their team for the season. They need the players to be in shape once practices start in August. They need a high percentage of participation in their summer program to have a chance at winning during the season. The players understand; they want to win too. Some high school athletes have the hopes and dreams to play in college when their high school days are over. They have been told how difficult it is to get recruited. If students want to compete for athletic scholarships, they need to outwork and out perform the competition. Most realize summer is a time to prepare. In that press Journal article written by Jon Santucci he included some statistics I found enlightening. 1 in 99 High School Football players in Florida sign a National Letter of intent. What does that come down to? 1 in every 4 high school teams (assuming 25 seniors on each team) has a player sign a letter of intent to play at a college. That’s It. The article mentions that Florida had the highest percentage. They stated that Georgia was second with a ratio of 1 in every 176, California was third at 1 in 408 and Texas was fourth at 1 in 436.
A student Athlete giving up his or her time, in the summer, to prepare for a sport they play, is a necessary practice for competitive sports. Just like it is for musicians who are members of the band. The old joke, “A man walks down the street and asked a stranger, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? The stranger replies, Practice, Practice, Practice.” Yes, they need balance in their lives, but to reach team or individual goals takes hard work, and a lot of practice.
Do you agree with this article? I would love to know what is expected of athletes in your local high school.