This week, I respond to three questions in the Whitman HS paper, the Black & White.
1. Why do you believe classic and travel sports leagues have become so successful over the years? When did you see a big spike in participation in Koa?
This is a great question, and it has been interesting to watch the boom of travel sports the last 15 years. I believe the growth of travel sports is simple—parents think that putting their son or daughter on a travel team will bring out the best in them! My parents, like most in the Bethesda area (and in the US), want to give their young athlete every possible advantage (athletic, academic, and social) to equip them with the tools to succeed in life. The second reason why travel sports has grown is because of “professional coaching.” Most movements believe that education is the key to a successful future. In my opinion, there are more experienced adults now studying the craft of coaching. Many former athletes have decided to take on careers in coaching and personal training. In years past, they would accept sales jobs. Thus, the level of coaching (and amount of quality coaches) in the US has drastically improved, and will continue to do so!
We have seen a spike in the registrations with Koa the last five years as the appetite for professional coaching continues to grow. I define a professional coach very similar to a professional photographer — if you get paid to perform an activity, then you are a professional. Here at Koa, all of our coaches are background-checked and go through intensive training.
2. What do you think about colleges recruiting middle and high school students earlier and earlier, year after year? Do you think this impacts the decisions kids make when they opt to hone in on one sport and join more competitive leagues?
It is apparent that college recruiting is beginning younger and younger. I’m sure if we spent 10 minutes researching who the best 2020 class for football and basketball players (they are 6th graders) we could find a list on sites like ESPN or Rivals. This is insane! But, the reason for this is simple, there is SO much money at stake. The NCAA is making a killing off the TV rights and merchandising for college football and basketball. The stakes are rising for young athletes. Kevin Durant was rumored to sign a roughly $270 million dollar deal with Under Armour, but elected to sign a deal that could be worth up to $300 million with Nike. This deal will be worth more than his salary with the Thunder over the next two seasons! The compensation is rising and so is the competition to be in the limelight. Unfortunately, money drives many decisions in life. Many athletes choose to focus on one sport to try to land a scholarship to promote their professional aspirations. Focusing on one sport too early can cause burnout. Parents can put massive amounts of pressure on their young athletes. In turn, they can miss out on the necessary cross training.
3. How has Koa benefited from the earlier college recruiting and the cuts to the recreational leagues?
Koa has directly benefited from earlier college recruiting because parents are seeking an advantage for their child. It’s the same with the market boom for college counselors (it starts earlier and earlier) as well as tutoring services. As I mentioned before, parents are always looking for what’s best for their kid athletically, academically, and socially. I believe the recreational leagues are suffering budget cuts because that’s what the market is dictating. Private organizations that do not rely on county funding seem to outperform the county recreational department because they have to or they will go out of business. Ultimately, the parents have created this market and dictated the change in Montgomery County, as well as all over the US. Both for profit and non-for-profit organizations have taken off to satisfy new market demands. It’s Economics 101.