Despite the headlines, things aren’t all bad in the college basketball recruiting world. In fact, things are pretty much the same as always. At least for 99.9% of travel teams like ours. You see, we’re the bunch that a few bad apples are trying to ruin.
(featured image via www.thepostgame.com and Getty Images)
But don’t worry. Those few apples won’t take the rest of us down. You know why? Because no one has ever given us anything before. We didn’t need it then. We don’t need it now. And when you are not given anything…well, there’s nothing that can be taken away.
The current shake up resulting when the FBI arrested 10 people in connection with fraud is definitely a black eye on the sport. But black eyes are not knock out punches. 99.9% of are still standing. And we continue to fight.
Maybe we are taking a leap of faith in speaking on behalf of a lot of programs around the country. But here is why the majority of travel programs will be alive and well when the travel recruiting season begins again next spring.
To be completely transparent, we have no facts or insider information. What we are about to lay out is not guaranteed to happen. This opinion is based on our experience, logic and watching how similar situations played out in the past. And it’s not that we aren’t interested in what happens. Of course we are. But we really won’t be affected. Here’s why.
We don’t need the money
This may be the end of the “shoe company team” era as we know it. Coaches and shoe company employees are losing their jobs and facing real jail time. Not to mention the hit a shoe company’s brands are about to take. You can expect the current shoe company / shoe team relationships to be altered.
There are two reasons why a lot of the shoe company teams are likely having restless nights this week. And why they will continue to be sleepless for the near future.
Their program’s funding may go bye bye
For years, shoe sponsored teams have been receiving money from their parent brands. We’ve heard at times it can be in the $250,000 range each year. Generally, the money is paid to the director and / or head coach. That money goes to pay for travel, gear and the expenses of running their program.
Honestly, there does not appear to be anything wrong with this. It is not illegal as far as we can tell. And as long as the directors and coaches aren’t passing the money along to the players (wink wink) there are no violations. But the shake up and the need for brands to clean up their public image may change that.
The problem for these teams is that this is the only funding model they know. Now the sponsorship is at risk. If the shoe sponsors yank their funding, where is the money going to come from? How do they pay for flights, hotels, tournament fees, jerseys? Remember, the players have never paid before. Are they suddenly going to be OK coming up with $3,000-$5,000 now?
The playing field just got leveled
When playing for a team is no longer about money and gear, the reason to play becomes about substance.
What is behind the team? Who are the coaches and what are they teaching about becoming better men? Are the player’s best interests the priority? Is the leadership experienced and proven? If you don’t have substance to replace the money and shoes…that’s a tough sell.
So what happens if the shoe money well runs dry?
Here’s what happens. Players and families have to take a closer look at what matters the most. And they will be looking at previous relationships and actual basketball related items. The gear is gone and families are paying their own way. If you have nothing else to offer then you are in big trouble.
For the 99.9% of us that are not fueled by shoe money, we are sleeping great at now.
A level playing field? Oh baby! That’s all we’ve ever wanted.
We don’t need the sexy tourneys
The past three summers have showcased some incredible tournaments in Las Vegas. They have been impressive. Not necessarily the teams playing but the entertainment value. Silver rims, reflecting floors, light shows, DJs, announcers and banners of elite NBA players everywhere. It is quite a show. Some even rival that of an NBA game.
Big brand tournaments have set a new standard for entertainment. What if they go away?
But with the recent events, shoe companies may try to separate themselves. Or the NCAA (or FBI) may require them to move on. If that happens, those entertainment centers are going to go away.
You know what? That’s ok. The 99.9% of us are looking for three things in a tournament: 10 foot baskets, a 94 foot court and a team to play against.
It is all we know. We don’t get invited to play on the main court anyway. We have to win our way there instead of having it given to us because of a logo we wear.
Nike. Adidas. Under Armour. Nothing. We don’t care. We are there for the game.
The players are our business, not their talent
There is no question that every team and coach wants to put the best talent on the floor. But at the end of the day, we aren’t in this because of a player’s talent. We are in it because of who he wants to become.
Shoe companies want the most talented players that have the best chance of becoming an NBA star. The top end NBA players drive hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of a brand’s product. $150,000 is a small investment to find the next great star. But if you don’t have the talent, they don’t have the time.
But for 99.9% of us, we know that our kids are not going to play in the NBA. We want them to improve, maybe move on to the next level and ultimately create some of the best memories of their lives. It is the conversations in the mini-vans and the selfies in Denny’s that keep us going. Not duffel bags of cash.
Our players have talent. Some of them may even be elite. But what most of us are concerned about is building them up right now so that they have a better future. And that future is probably not going to be in basketball. That is just fine with us.
We are the 99.9% of basketball. We’ll see you next spring.