No fall viewing period is a win for families by Clay Kallam
This is the most important thing for high school players to understand about Division I women’s basketball: There are more D1 scholarships than there are D1 players.
Briefly, the reason is there are 15 scholarships per women’s college basketball team rather than 13 for the men, and the talent pool is noticeably shallower. Unfortunately, families of girls who have Division I talent tend to not be aware of this crucial fact. And certainly tournament directors and club coaches who constantly preach the importance of exposure and getting seen have no reason to enlighten anyone about the reality of the situation.
That made the recent protests about the fall viewing period seem so misplaced, as they came mainly from Division I coaches, and were aimed at the exorbitant charges for information on players in club tournaments. Granted, paying $600 for a book of contacts that most coaches already have, because they purchased similar books for the past four years, is simple gouging. (In addition, the proliferation of tournaments around the country is because they are moneymakers for every organizer.)
But honest conversations with all involved reveal that the fall viewing period is about as useful as an appendix. All it can do is blow up on someone – as it did on one of my former players when she tore her ACL – and of course, cost families a lot of money.
The irony here is that the protest came from well-paid college coaches working for major universities with multimillion-dollar athletic budgets but the real victims are families with much more limited resources that must pay for transportation, lodging and food on a fall viewing period road trip that is completely unnecessary. It is possible that a player may get more options after a good showing in a fall tournament, but if there were no fall viewing period, there would still be the same number of scholarships available, and again, every girl who deserved one would get one.
Of course basketball is not alone in this particular trap for unwary parents. Volleyball and soccer club coaches insist that girls need to play year-round, while of course paying hefty fees for the privilege, in order to “keep up” with the others.
If parents and players understood the process – something that the NCAA, colleges, and many club coaches would rather not see happen – they could flip the game and reach out to colleges on their own. My suggestion to families of with any daughter who wishes to play any level of college basketball is to take control by reaching out directly to colleges via letter, phone and email.
Though a game or highlight video is nice, all that’s really required is a letter to the coach that goes something like this:
“My name is Rachel, I have an X.x GPA, I averaged XX.xpoints for XX high school, and I’m interested in your school. I have attached my high school schedule, and will send along my club schedule as soon as it’s available.
My parents will be following up with a phone call soon and I look forward to talking to you in the future.”
Actually, the hardest part about this is getting a girl to sit down and list eight or 10 schools that she’s interested in. Generally, a sophomore in high school will respond to the question of “Where do you want to go to college?” With “I don’t know, what’s for dinner?” But considering the cost of travel, uniforms, food on the road, etc., that conversation actually could save a family quite a bit of money by eliminating the need to play in tournaments in certain parts of the country. (For example, if a girl says “I don’t want to go anywhere where it rains a lot,” she’s not going to the Northwest, so no need to book that flight for the Seattle tournament.)
Yes, it’s important to play in some events so college coaches can see you. Yes, you need to be able to display your talents against reasonably accomplished opposition. But you do not need to do so in seventh grade, or eighth grade, or ninth grade. And you do not need to do so 10 times each summer, and travel all over your region, or the country, trying to get two more offers.
Remember this basic fact: There are more Division I scholarships than there are Division I players – if you’re good enough, they will find you. Every dollar you spend on the road is a dollar that could have gone to lowering the amount of your student loan.