Boys and girls are being recruited for college lacrosse as early at 7th grade, some signing letters of intent before even reaching high school. It is wrong on so many levels and it is exerting negative effects not just in the sport of lacrosse, but across the spectrum of youth athletics. College coaches often dislike this practice as much as anyone, but are loathe to stop because they feel that if they do not do the same, they may miss out on the the next great blue chip athlete that may be program changer.
US Lacrosse CEO Steve Stenersen has branded the early recruiting epidemic as a “scourge” that is damaging to the sport of lacrosse (and youth sports in general). Lacrosse participation has leveled off. Single sport specialization is at an all time high, as are overuse injuries that are clearly associated with single sport specialization at a young age. 70 percent of youth athletes are quitting organized sports by the age of 13, and college transfers are at an all time high.
Beyond these facts, the pressure being placed on young athletes to perform is unprecedented and is zapping the fun out of lacrosse and other sports. While a minority of parents relish in the notion that they are spending crazy amounts of money to keep their child playing year round on multiple state and national club teams, the financial strain and time commitment that cuts into precious family time is troubling to many others. Look no further than the high divorce rates of families that commit all of their resources and time to making their child a singing or acting star to see why such a course is not healthy.
Says WLCA president Alicia Groveston, “We are at a tipping point….Some sanity could be restored to the recruiting process.” What she is referring to is NCAA DI Council Proposal 2016-26, the vote of which if passed, would ban all college coach contact with youth and high school athletes until September 1 of their junior year of high school. The vote will take place when the Council meets April 13-14 2017.
If the measure does not pass, it may not come up again for consideration for another 2 years or longer. For the sake of the kids and the sport we love, let us hope good sense and a commitment to the greater good prevails.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality through a number of tpics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.