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Saturday, April 26, 2008

WIAA's Annual Meeting Raises Concerns

Executive director Doug Chickering warned WIAA delegates Wednesday about the trend toward elite training programs that could sap the competitive nature out of the high school sports scene. Chickering cited a letter from the U.S. Soccer Academy that actually chided club teams for allowing their players to participate in interscholastic athletics. So, could prep hoops be next?

Countless man-hours have been wasted calling out the AAU circuit for the downfall of modern civilization. But when it comes to basketball, AAU ball may only be the tip of the iceberg. Now that the NBA has set it's sights on revamping amateur basketball alongside the NCAA, high school basketball as we now it could eventually be headed for a ride into the sunset. Camps like the Nike Skills Academy have been around for a few years now and just recently, training programs like Adidas Nations have successfully pulled elite players away from the AAU scene for the summer in the hopes of grooming the kids for international play.

While power brokers like David Stern and USA basketball have in mind globalization and a return to the gold medal standard, high school sports administrators seem to be concerned about the mediocre majority being left behind. However, I think there is a gap in logic there. People like Chickering say they are truly concerned about the common youth athlete, but this is about revenue. Keep all your premier young athletes, and organizations like the WIAA guarantee themselves record-breaking crowds and gate receipts each new year at arenas across the land. But think about it: Would fever-pitched fanaticism at state tournaments evaporate because two or three (10? 20?) of the top high school basketball players in Wisconsin decided on a route similar to junior league hockey? Possibly, but unlikely.

If the truly elite athletes started disappearing off to who-knows-where like little gymnasts of the new millennium, it would seem to me that they would leave behind a more level playing field. Not to mention more playing time for lil' John Q. Public Jr. Sure, missing out on the next LeBron playing high school hoops would deprive the fans, but it is not going to devastate the other kids still on the court. In fact, without a transcendent Greg Oden (or Sam Okey) steamrolling through the state tournament, wouldn't more teams have a chance at that elusive state title? What's not to like about that, Doug?

In other news, Chickering also said that the number of public school students in the state's open enrollment program is now equal to the entire private school population. The perception of private school recruiting has certainly been a hot topic in the last decade; maybe that argument is going the way of the buffalo also.

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SLAM Magazine noted that Mike Bruesewitz "made an impression" during the recent Real Deal on the Hill AAU tournament. Author Aggrey Sam even called Bruiser "athletic" so, ya know ... no more questioning Bruiser's street cred.

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Absolutely great play by Carl Landry at the end of the Rockets-Jazz game Thursday night.* Michael Flowers-esque actually -- track down the replay (ed: Got it!) and don't miss the save to his teammate off of the blocked shot. It's about time Houston gave that guy some playoff minutes.

*I hate that rule that let's NBA teams advance the ball to half court on a timeout. It sacrifices some of the game's integrity if you ask me.

1 comment:

  1. Great points about the elite players. The state tournament would still be a great event if, like you said, the top 5-10 players participate in non WIAA leagues. I mean, did the past state tournament suck because Korey Lucious and Jamil Wilson didn't make it to Madison? No. I'll continue to watch.


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