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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is televising high school sports bad for players?

In last Sunday’s (10/1) edition of the New York Times, there was a column in The Week in Review section headlined "Girls and Boys, Interrupted." It was by Alissa Quart, author of a book entitled "Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child."
Quart’s began by describing how she was watching TV one night and came across a football game replete with player biographies, cheerleaders, sideline reporters, etc. Only it was a high school football game.
The basic point of Quart’s column is that subjecting kids in contests -- whether it be athletic, academic (like spelling bees) or entertainment -- to TV cameras is not in their best interests.
Here is a couple of examples of what she had to say.
"Forever, these media-ready competitors will have to carry the legacy of having been either humiliated by the broadcast of their losses or frozen in the inflated image of their wins."
"But one way or another, grown-up viewers of televised youth competitions find themselves contorted into an odd position. We become talent agents, recruiters and connoisseurs of precocity, judging the young competitors on their seamlessness and, ironically, how un-childlike they are."
I pretty much agree with Quart, but I’m a bit ambivalent about it. When USA TODAY started ranking high school teams more than 20 years ago, I thought it was absurd and would be the start of making high school sports more like college and the pros. The televising of high school sports, and shows like "Two-a-days," chronicling Hoover, Ala., High’s 2005 football season, is just the logical extension of that. Of course, the proliferation of media over that time also has a lot to do with it.
The genie of televised high school sports has been let out of the bottle and it’s not going to be pushed back in. There’s just going to be more of it. It’s up to adults in official positions, like coaches and principals, to help their kids keep things in perspective. Let’s hope they do their jobs well.


Blogger Brian McCallum said...

If you watch the show Two-a-days, which I've done, it gets into the players and their girlfriends at least a little. That's evidence that this is ridiculous.
Russell, you've hit on an important issue again. I take my hat off to you.

4:02 PM  

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