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New Yorker on high school football

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by lcjjdnh, Dec 26, 2011.

  1. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Well-Known Member

    Piece in this week's New Yorker on high school football. More specifically, Don Bosco Prep in NJ. It read like a pretty positive profile. Absurd elements of the sport pointed out, but not really treated in a disdainful tone. Coach Toal comes off pretty well even though he sounds like he embodies the worst elements of the jock culture.

    Paywalled version:
  2. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    We have a couple of private schools in my region that have chosen to pursue this "national" approach to their programs. They've been so effective at recruiting the top players in the area that even the other private schools in their leagues are no match for them anymore. Partly because of that and partly because of their own ambitions to be "big-time," they play these "national" games that end up on ESPN.

    The trend is a runaway train, so perhaps it's pointless to nitpick at it, but I can't help feeling like it's just no good. It's turning high school sports into a business. And it's beginning to turn public school sports into a second tier of competition. In my area we have middle school parents falling all over themselves to get their kids recruited by the top private school teams. And the private school coaches make it clear that they're out there looking for talent. Some of these kids are getting financial aid or reduced tuition so they can attend these schools. And that begs the same question that has long since been forgotten at the college level: If not for sports, would this kid be in this school?

    I'm sure there are positives to these sorts of high school programs, but I just don't see them. I'm uncomfortable with this business-like approach extending down into high school and youth sports. The fact that private high school coaches are recruiting middle school kids flat-out disgusts me. But you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube.
  3. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    As at many private schools, the parents are the problem at Bosco. The baseball program is also nationally ranked, yet has had four coaches in five years. Last season Bosco went something like 25-2 and the coach was fired, not because he didn't win the states, but because some parents were upset about their sons' playing time. Mike Stanton coached that team two years ago.
  4. crimsonace

    crimsonace Well-Known Member

    Same thing is happening at a certain private school around here. They played, in a nine-game schedule, four or five out-of-state teams and the in-state games were against top-flite schools from the biggest class.

    They play their public school counterparts in the tournament and it's like watching a major college team take on a high school team -- one has 130 kids on the roster, the other has somewhere between 50-65. They've played one close game in the tournament in years. The only major restriction is the Indiana HSAA -- to prevent this kind of program from loading up -- does not allow an Indiana team to play someone that's more than 300 miles from the state line (which is a bit of a liberalizing of what it used to be -- the two schools had to be less than 300 miles apart, and the team could only come from an adjoining state. Now, an Indiana team can conceivably play someone from Tennessee or Missouri, although in practice, they only play teams from the four bordering states).
  5. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Interesting article that left me with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Instinctively it seems like there is something wrong about Don Bosco program and it's just not clear what it is.

    It has to be demoralizing to the other NJ teams that have to play them. I'm surprised that Bosco can still get games against Jersey teams.
  6. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    The fun thing about these jock-factory recruited, virtual-semipro charter and private school prep teams is, with only a few exceptions, they don't draw shit.

    Why would they? They don't represent a city, most of their players are hired guns from far outside their district limits, often they are completely-concocted teams with no alumni base. Nobody who doesn't actually have a kid on the team gives a shit, nor should they. Nor should anybody ever watch them on TV.
  7. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    Hello people, we need to dial back that emphasis on sports!! Sports heros are not going to get the country out of an economic spiral. The "nationalization" of high school sports highlights the distortion of our collective priorities. Its about academics, not sports.
  8. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    That seems like what the article was saying without actually writing it. Ben McGrath did a good job of laying it out and allowing readers to draw their own conclusions.
  9. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    This sort of thing was inevitable, and like Boom said, it has an uncomfortable feel to it. It's hard not to go off on a good-old-days rant about this, too.

    To cover a true high-school powerhouse a few decades ago was a true happening. It was about the intensity of a fan base. It was traveling to that town on a Friday night at 6 p.m. and start seeing school-color bows wrapped around trees three miles before reaching town limits. It was walking into the stadium and seeing the fans walking around with game faces, they were so intense about the game.

    It was seeing the dominance of a great high school football team.

    I've spoken before about covering "mythical national champion" Berwick (Pa.) in the early '80s. I saw them face another unbeaten club in late November for an Eastern Conference championship, before Pennsylvania even had state playoffs. Berwick's running backs didn't meet any opposition for 4 yards past the line of scrimmage, because that's how far their offensive front blew the defense off the football. QB Bo Orlando, later a 10-year NFL cornerback, would run 10, 12 yards upfield on the triple option -- and then pitch outside to the trail back for another 10 yards.

    What would happen to ballclubs like this today? It would play 2-3 nonleague games against "national" competition, often at antiseptic, neutral sites with absolutely no ambience. It would play the rest of its games against competition so outmatched that you can't even get excited about the good team showing domination.

    And the fan base isn't there like it was, because the school and the community can't relate to this team like it once could. You never SEE the damn kids around town; they're either working out or going to camps in the offseason. Their demeanor around town is that of a major college football player.
  10. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio

    by James Wright 1963

    In the Shreve High football stadium,
    I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
    And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
    And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
    Dreaming of heroes.

    All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
    Their women cluck like starved pullets,
    Dying for love.

    Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
    At the beginning of October,
    And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.
  11. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Good pull Az- Oh for the good ole days when the little lady was home in the kitchen.
    Now they are at the game selling cookies and providing healthy snacks for Little Jimmy's post game snack.

    What Bosco is doing has to be a buzz kill for the kids in other programs. Not only are they losing talented players from their own school, but they know they don't stand a chance against Bosco.
  12. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member


    Doesn't see the problem.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
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