One of the big news stories in amateur sports this past fall focused on the Cam Newton scandal and that $180,000 his father allegedly requested from Mississippi State for Cam's commitment there. The idea of using a child's athletic talents for one's own personal gain certainly smells of exploitation, something frowned upon by most.
As bad as the Cam Newton story sounds, especially since the exploitation came from a parent, there are others using high school athletes' talent for their own personal and financial gain. This type of activity does not stop with Cam's story, and it does not only involve the sport of football.
Amateur basketball is under attack by the $$$$ enticements unethical agents (blood suckers) are all too ready to throw at high profile amateur basketball players. Those whose families are financially strapped for cash and who see their sports career as their ticket out of poverty are particularly vulnerable.
What is the advantage to the agent for putting so much money up front? The possible signing of a client who just might bring in a big payoff when securing an NBA-type contract is a big incentive; the payoffs are so lucrative they can't resist the unethical temptation.
This growing problem was highlighted by David Dorsey in his article, High school sports haunted by pay-play scandals, at news-press.comout of Fort Meyers, Florida. In his piece Dorsey brings into focus this issue of pay-for-play through the words of longtime high school basketball recruiting analyst Dave Telep.
Should there be a substantial consequence for an agent soliciting amateur high school athletes?
"Agents aren't paying high school and college players hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are, according to Telep, paying for players' cell phone bills and their parents' mortgages. Most of them are not getting caught with these acts, which violate NCAA rules of amateurism."
And later in the article Telep says:
"...agents are taking care of kids and families in a lot of cases."
"We're starting to see a shift in the thinking. When you peel back the curtains, this is what's going on. It's almost accepted behind closed doors."
It's a tough situation. On the one hand you have an exceptional athlete whose family might be struggling being given a chance to better their (and their family's) lives, and on the other, you have the agent who is looking only to benefit himself breaking every rule of amateurism that exists for his own personal gain.
The enticement to go this route for the athlete is intense; there is no doubt about that. However, when this type of attitude becomes "accepted behind closed doors," it does shift the mindset of the athlete, and, at least to me, places in perspective the "loss of perspective" in our current sports culture. It changes the reason why an athlete is playing; it shifts their focus, hurting their development as a person and their potential as a player.
Dorsey clarifies my point well through his interpretation of University of North Carolina recruit James McAdoo's statement, "I love the game more than you could ever imagine. Getting paid, that hasn't crossed my mind," when he says:
"...the money doesn't motivate him compared to simply playing basketball at the highest level."
"That's the goal," expressed McAdoo.
Now that is a kid whose head seems to be screwed on right. Let's hope, for his sake, that it stays that way.