Today we are quick to blame the AAU culture for all the evils of high school sports. But rarely do we place any blame on a parent or athlete. I say its a two way street. I feel everyone these days are doing their part. I also believe some of the issues surrounding AAU are becoming serious issues. That I believe the state on New Jersey must address ASAP.
Recently I have seen something I have not seen in all years around the Shore Conference. It’s clearly has upset high school coaches and is very disturbing to say the least. There are players in the middle of the their high school seasons attending AAU practices and workouts. This for me is crossing a line that goes way beyond basketball. This is about a lack of respect towards coaches, teammates and the highest level of selfishness. We are not talking about a kid who doesn’t see playing time trying to stay sharpe. This is about greed, control, fear and getting a edge on competitors. It’s also about a lack of loyalty and commitment.
We can sit around talking about all the problems with AAU basketball. But what we rarely talk about is all the good AAU basketball does. Like it keeps kids busy and active during the year. It allows a kids to meet friends and travel the country. It brings families closer together. It also allows a kid to test their talents vs other talented players. AAU is a good thing and sometimes we forget this because of a FEW BAD APPLES. AAU is now big money and in many cases how people feed their families. The people in AAU provide a service and I believe they are 100% in their rights to ask for compensation. But there are also some things that are wrong.
No AAU coach should be interfering with a player during their high school season. No AAU program should be asking kids to attend a AAU tryout or practice in the middle of their season. Please don’t give the the ” its optional” nonsense. This is flat out wrong and the state, I believe should step in now and stop this… AAU coaches have plenty of time to watch kids play. They have plenty of time to conduct tryouts. Why in the world would they be doing such things during a kids high school season? Well let me explain why.
Many kids are fearful of not attending an AAU practice of tryout out of fear they will lose a spot or not make a team. This is a real fear, it’s why recently in the middle of a young ladies high school practice, she informed her coach she was leaving early for AAU practice…SHE IS A STARTER ON THE TEAM. Now you would think a AAU coach would never encourage such behavior. But you would be wrong because the AAU coach needs that player at practice to entice other players to join the team. It’s the reason when a high school coach gives a kid a day off they find out that kid is at a AAU practice or workout. Now you say why are the parents allowing this? Because the parents are fearful of what will happen if the young lady doesn’t attend the practice or tryout. These are the same parents who are in shock when a AAU coach lies to them during the AAU experience. The relationship started with a lack of loyalty, trust and commitment...
You must understand much of this is about control. This is most certainly about fear. The fear of rejection and the fear of being cast out into the basketball streets. AAU teams interfering with a young ladies high school season in my opinion tells you everything. It tells you a program has no respect for the player, the players high school coach, the players high school teammates and most importantly the players parents. When you hear people say “you can’t trust anyone in AAU, just remember it’s a two way street. I also believe that high school coaches must make a stand. This is not a soccer player going to to a showcase. This is a player choosing to disrespect their teammates and school.
Now this thing with kids during the high school season practicing with their AAU coaches has it reasons. In many cases the reason is because AAU coaches are afraid other AAU coaches will steal their players. So they want to keep a connection with players. It’s a legit concern but high school coaches are not trying to steal their players…they must work with the high school coaches not fight with them. Disrupting an entire high school basketball program and a players season is wrong