Signing off on Signing Day
A couple of quick points here, one of them patently obvious. The growth in media interest related to NSD (much like the NFL Draft) is directly related to the explosion of sports media. Internet sites, blogs, fan message boards have seemingly done nothing the past few months (at least since the end of the college season) but talk about who's going where in college recruiting. An entire cottage industry exclusively devoted to high school recruiting has emerged at such places as Rivals and Max Preps. Such sites have turned recruiting into a 24/7 topic of conversation.
The big question then becomes ... is this a good thing? Sometimes we fail to remember that these are 17- and 18-year-old kids we're talking about, even if they can run fast, hit hard and jump high. It's both incredible and pathetic to troll through comments posted on fan message boards when a recruit decides to change commitments at the last minute. SI's Andy Staples reported on this sampling of tweets from a Georgia fan aimed at receiver Da'rick Rogers after Rogers switched from the Bulldogs to Tennessee:
"You're nothing! you (sic) need to put some meat on that 14 yr. old body if you want to play in the SEC!"
"lol... when you were a dawg???? you were never a dawg.. maybe a @#$%& but not a dawg! good luck at tennersee (sic)"
"lol i love to hear you respond b/c your ignorance amazes me!! People told me how stupid you were i just had to see it!"Then there are the kids who revel in the attention and self-gratification. In many cases, the signing of the letter of intent turns into a side-show, complete with the now-overdone surprise announcement by selecting one college hat from a competing group.
In JSM Volume 3, No. 2 (Falls 2008) Marie Hardin and Thomas Corrigan discussed the increasing focus in the sports media on high school athletics. Hardin and Corrigan argued that such a focus need more scrutiny, especially within an ethical context. I would wholeheartedly agree and encourage much more discussion of these issues. Such discussions need to take place before "National Signing Day--Junior High Edition" appears in our newspapers, websites and television stations.