College Football: The Decision II Shows What's Wrong With CFB Recruiting

Del KerbyContributor IFebruary 15, 2011

ROCK HILL, SC - FEBRUARY 14:  Jadeveon Clowney announces his college football commitment to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks along side his mother Josenna and father David during a press conference at South Pointe High School on February 14, 2011 in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Did you watch the ESPN coverage of "The Decision II", the JaDevon Clowney announcement? Does anybody see anything wrong with this?

Since when does a high school athlete deserve such attention when announcing the choice of school he will attend?

Has the interest of the various sports networks (can you say ESPN?) stooped to such a level that they hype these kids as the next coming of Walter Payton or Peyton Manning?

I can't wait for the signing announcements for soccer. Will ESPN be touting the next Pele or Ronaldo with a film crew to cover his every move? 

And what about water polo? Will they provide coverage of the women who will grace their next all-nude ESPN Magazine cover after they sign their letters of intent and receive invitations to join the U.S. Water Polo team?

I guess this is what happens when you live in a world of social networking, reality television and the internet. 

These are high school football players, receiving the level of attention reserved for professional athletes. What will happen when they get to the college of their choice?

The majority will be red-shirted, and some may not be able to report to their chosen school due to academic issues. This may prove to be the issue for Clowney, as there are reports that his grades are less than stellar.

The rare few will get on the field and receive playing time. We can all applaud them for their efforts both on the field and in the classroom.

The aggressive hyping of high school athletes is an amazing trend. A trend that speaks to where our society has gone as we search for entertainment.

We feel entitled to feed our thirst for sports entertainment, going to any length to justify our fanaticism when chasing our chosen sport.

There are nationally broadcast high school games on ESPN with nationally recognized sports apparel and refreshment advertising. The only thing missing is the beer commercials.

The Under Armour game was a classic example of how far off the scale high school football has gone. The spectacle of watching player after player being pulled aside so they could announce their verbal intention.

There are sites like Rivals, Scout and Max Preps that have become high school rating meccas for the everyday sports nut. Providing national coverage of above average high school athletes, who are being inflated to levels unheard of before.

There are companies generating professional grade video tapes for families to send out to the various college programs in hopes of getting into their chosen school.

But at what cost? These are children, not adults, and certainly not professional athletes. The pressure to perform is enormous for these kids, and thus the pitfalls are even deeper.

We are all aware that steroid and human growth hormone use has percolated down to the junior high level of athletics. While the use is probably not widespread, the fact that it exists speaks to the psychological issues involved with high school athletics.

The psychological issues that arise when children are constantly exposed to the hype that they are better than everyone around them. That they are in a class by themselves, and thus failure is not an option. For to fail would mean they are just average people, and are not deserving of the adulation they have received.

When a nationally-ranked player has a bad day and it is broadcast around the country, what is the cost to that child? The mood swings from euphoria to depression must be extremely difficult to manage. 

Almost every year there is a news story of an elite athlete committing suicide because of the depression and pressure he experienced.

Is this really what we want as sports enthusiasts? Why isn't the welfare of these young athletes being put ahead of everything else?  They have a lot of growing to do before becoming mature adults.

Maybe it is time that we all took a step back. Step back and let them play a kids' game on a fall Friday night with the immortality that comes with it.

Let them smell the grass and enjoy those Friday Night Lights.