The year-round sports backlash has begun?

Great piece in the Wall Street Journal about how some parents and kids are rebelling against the increasing demands of sports today, i.e. club sports.

I’m actually surprised this didn’t happen sooner.


  1. Unfortunately, if you want to be better in your sport, especially basketball, you almost always have to sign up with a club team. They usually have better coaching and you play against better competition. Just about all of the local high schools here in the South Bay have club teams that feed into them.

    My 15 year old daughter joined a club team for the first time this year. Season runs from April through August and costed us over $2000. Yikes! Included in that was airfare & lodging for a tournament in Phoenix (that, coincidentally, happens to be going on right now). And the bummer about it right now is that she rolled her ankle in a tournament last week (San Diego Classic) and now will miss the rest of her club tournaments & workouts. I wonder if I can get a partial refund…

  2. Sorry to hear about your daughter, CB. Yours is not the first kid who that's happened to……

    Did you see my research piece a few weeks back on club teams? If not, here it is:

    The general consensus of coaches and players is that club ball is necessary in today's scholarship sweepstakes. I happen to agree. And that circumstance – aka "the game has changed" – was the impetus for the piece in the first place.

    In the spirit of fairness, though, I had to link the WSJ piece. Myself and many others worry about the toll of year-round basketball on some of these young bodies, as well as the mental fatigue. It doesn't surprise me that some are getting sick of it.

  3. Club coaching is the worse. Coaches don't teach fundamentals and the entire game is run and gun or running some stupid play that doesn't work besides that the coaches lie to the players telling them how great they'll be and that they enable them to get scholarships. Players are not over looked anymore. College coaches find the good ones whether they play club ball or not. Parents get a guareentee from the club coach in writing that your child will get a full ride scholarship or the club coach will pay for all four years otherwise save all your travel ball money and pay for college yourself, but don't be a fool and believe anything a club coach says. Why are they in it because they aren't hirable at a high school since they aren't intelligent enough to get a teaching degree.

  4. Poor coaching in club teams hasn't been what I've seen and experienced. In fact, it's been the opposite. For the longest time, our local high school's girls basketball team had a coach with absolutely no experience playing basketball. He was a math teacher who picked up his basketball knowledge from watching the Lakers on TV. Luckily, he left just before the season that my daughter entered high school, but I've heard plenty of horror stories from the parents of the older players about his game strategy. How can a player develop in that kind of environment?

    Since a lot of middle schools are cutting back on sports programs (our middle school eliminated all after school sports three years ago), and the coaching at the Parks & Recs leagues is usually a joke, it can be very difficult to get players with decent skills by the time they reach high school. Quite a few of our JV players come in playing basketball for the first time ever. There doesn't seem to be any nationally developed youth program for basketball, like AYSO for soccer or Little League for baseball, so you're often left with the club teams if you want to develop your skills.

    Interestingly, probably the best source of skilled players for a lot of the high schools in the South Bay of Los Angeles, especially the girls teams, has been the Japanese-American leagues. Many of those players start playing when they're 5 years old and their season is pretty much year-round. The coaching can be quite good, but generally isn't as intense as the club teams. The expenses aren't nearly as bad, either.

    If you ask around, you can get a good feel for which club teams are the best as far as teaching & coaching fundamentals. And if in doubt, I would attend a few practices and/or games to get a feel for what the coaching is like before committing to a team.

    As far as burn-out goes, our oldest daughter loves to play and she loves to practice. She's not what I would call naturally gifted, but is a decent player because she works hard. Because she loves the game so much, we sign her up for clinics and do the club thing because she wants to get better. Our youngest daughter, on the other hand, plays basketball more or less for the social aspects. We let her know that if she wants to get better, we can sign her up for various clinics or get her on a club team, but we don't push her.

    Lastly, that was a good research piece, Sue. While I agree that playing on an elite club team is essential to getting a scholarship at one of the big name schools, there are a lot of smaller schools that players shouldn't overlook. My daughter won't have the size nor skill to play D-I ball, but there are a lot of D-II and D-III schools out there that offer scholarships.

  5. CB, you're absolutely correct that bad coaches can be found everywhere. It's not a good idea to generalize either way, i.e. that high school coaches are necessarily good and club coaches are always bad. Definitely do the research, ask around, go to games and practices and see for yourself when choosing a club team for your daughter. Hell, do the same when choosing your daughter's high school, and include the academic aspect.

    CB, I also agree that an athlete should consider all schools. I have a presentation for players and families that encourages them to research schools and take a pro-active approach rather than simply accepeing that the schools who send letters are the only options. For some athletes, their ideal school is a small school; personality, athletic ability, career interests and athletic setting should all be considered.