I’m never recruiting baseball players again!
A great friend and baseball guy is responsible for passing on the two main parts of this post. The first
is an article he forwarded me which includes some quotes from an interview with Kobe Bryant. Here are some of the key comments by Bryant …
“I just think European players are just way more skillful,” Bryant said Friday night after the
Los Angeles Lakers’ 109-106 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “They are just taught the game the right way at an early age. … They’re more skillful. It’s something we really have to fix. We really have to address that. We have to teach our kids to play the right way.”“I just think European players are just way more skillful,” Kobe Bryant said Friday. “They are just taught the game the right way at an early age.”
Bryant was quick to point the finger for the decline of skilled players in the United States.
“AAU basketball,” Bryant said. “Horrible, terrible AAU basketball. It’s stupid. It doesn’t teach our kids how to play the game at all so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don’t know how to post. They don’t know the fundamentals of the game. It’s stupid.”
As baseball people, can you relate? I sure can. Here’s another from the article …
“Teach players the game at an early age and stop treating them like cash cows for everyone to profit off of,” he said. “That’s how you do that. You have to teach them the game. Give them instruction.”
(To read the entire article, click HERE.)
In my opinion, what Kobe is frustrated with in the game of basketball is exactly what I see happening in amateur baseball today throughout America. So much emphasis is on AAU, showcases, and recruiting services and much less emphasis on how to actually play the game the right way.
College coaches are recognizing this too.
And that brings me to the second thing my friend told me. He was having a conversation about recruiting with a successful college coach in Pennsylvania. He asked the coach what he looks for in a player. The coach responded by saying the following. (paraphrased)
“I’m never recruiting just ‘baseball players’ again. I recruit linebackers and defensive backs. I recruit point guards and I recruit soccer goalies. All these guys are usually athletic, fast, and agile. To play those positions they also have to be aggressive, tough, and show leadership. These are take charge athletes. I’m sick of receiving reports from recruiting services that show high ratings for players and when I go to see the kid I immediately see the kid cannot play and has no toughness at all. His swing looks pretty from all the private lessons and he has all the gear but he just can’t play. I’m done with them. I’m only recruiting athletes who excel in other sports too.”
A lot of baseball people I know are just as frustrated but like the college coach they are starting to recognize that things may be changing. Parents are seeing the futility of spending thousands of dollars on lessons, showcases, travel expenses, registration fees, etc. only to get back a few hundred dollars of scholarship money when the kid reaches college age. Or more likely, none at all!
In my view, old school rules still apply. Improve your athleticism, master the fundamentals, practice your butt off, do whatever it takes to help your team win, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket (sport).
And most importantly, do all your homework because the odds that anyone plays beyond high school (let alone after college) are pretty slim.