Monday, March 26, 2007

Sports Media Research: High School Athletics

Interesting story that ran recently in TV Week about the acquisition of MaxPreps by CBS and College Sports TV. It's part of a continuing trend in which high school athletes and athletics are getting maximum exposure in the national sports media.

It started with recruiting, which has become a year-round topic for Internet sites like and Now, more and more high school games are finding their way not only to ESPN, but to local and regional cable outlets. ESPN has begun airing high school basketball games on a regular basis, mostly to show extraordinary talents like O.J. Mayo. Then there's the growing number of high school sports-reality shows, like MTV's series on Hoover (AL) H.S. football.

I would be interested to know if anyone has researched this growing trend and its impact on teenage athletes.
By the accounts I've read in the media, Mayo is a Michael Jordan-like basketball prodigy, but he's exhibiting some disturbing behavior. Mayo is reportedly making increasing demands on the basketball program at USC, where he recently signed a letter of intent. Is Mayo simply doing what every kid in his position would do or has all this national attention created a spoiled, self-absorbed kid who has already come to expect a special status in life?

Professional and college athletes have come to expect intense media scrutiny, but what about high school kids? Is it really a good idea to have cameras following you around 24 hours a day when you're 16 years old?Much of this probably sounds like the ramblings of an old fogey, but I can remember when high school athletics were supposed to build character and players said "yes, sir" to coaches. If we've lost that, are the media to blame? And is it even a bad thing?


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