Did you know today is a momentous occasion? Yes, it’s National Signing Day, the first day star high school athletes can declare which college they have chosen to attend. ESPN is treating it with only slightly less fanfare than the NFL draft. Live coverage. Analysis. The works.
In high schools all over the country, students are gathering in gymnasiums to watch the local athletes don ball caps and jerseys signifying their choices. And throughout the land, college students and alumni breathlessly await the news. Which one of these fresh-faced high school seniors will bring a Heisman Trophy or a trip to the Final Four to their campuses?
Overkill, all of it.
It’s a big step from high school to college. A lot of stars on the scholastic scene turn out to be pretty mediocre once they get to campus. By pumping them up with Signing Day drama, might we not create unrealistic expectations? I think so. But then again, college sports isn’t about the kids. It never is.
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I see no end in sight to this glorification of athletes, even though it frequently turns out badly down the road for everyone. But how about some balance?
If high schools are going to exalt athletes, they should give equal time to their other talented kids. Let’s have pep rallies for students invited into academic honors programs at their state universities. Ceremonies for kids accepted into arts colleges. Some acknowledgment of how much some classmates struggle just to get to school every day.
Some schools actually do this in award ceremonies closer to graduation dates, as they should. But you probably won’t see the news cameras on hand. And maybe that’s just as well. Hype is only the precursor to a letdown.
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