Before the onslaught of analytics and the over analyzation of the sporting world, athletes were evaluated and measured through the reliable and trusted polygon of size, strength, speed and talent. It was a pretty good bet that a NFL running back at 220 pounds, benching 315 and running a 4.4 forty yard dash would excel on the gridiron.
As the phase shift to smart modeling and AI has become prevalent among scouting high school sporting prospects, instead of adhering to raw numbers and the “eye test” the number of misses on who will be the next All-American has surprisingly jumped as four and five star athletes fail to even crack the starting lineup at a Division One level. While mathematicians integrating into the decision making hierarchy of athletics are a negative factor in the misevaluation of potential, the complex formula to the detriment of quality of play and overall depth includes the lasting and relentless of big tech. Along with parents enabling the younger generations limitless immersion within the dreamland of devices, the smartphone and gaming are a pair of culprits in the decay of competition and a surge in injuries suffered during athletic events on a high school, university and professional level. Two decades of perpetual digital interaction by those born after 2000 supports the notion that prolonged electronic recreation has notable consequences on the durability and intensity of modern athletes in their prime. Add into the equation cultural differences and there is no middle ground between the dominant and the weak.
Resoundingly blue Seattle, the Silicon Valley of the North, exemplifies the absence of parity within the major prep sports. This is the satellite state of “tolerance”, where a coach was fired for leading participation optional postgame prayers in giving an avenue for reflection and unity. While the prevalence of H1-B workers poses a major challenge in filling football and basketball rosters, the aforementioned lack of tough love towards youth and universal inactivity account for the failure of recruiting evaluations. Amid this disturbing dynamic of dreams spurred by the mendacious and over-parenting, children no longer climb trees, form bicycle gangs and ride to play touch football at the local park, and develop a robust physicality inexplicable injuries through low impact activity have skyrocketed. The prevalence of serious injuries is simply a microcosm of youth barred from growing up in an organic environment, the aversion to bumps, scrapes and bruises the product of a neighborhood nanny state permeating onto a societal level of subversion and the will for control. After 25 years of the tech boom, local coaches are literally begging athletes to simply turn out.
A defensive coordinator at a local high school complained that his best players were influenced by parents and culture to participate soccer, tennis or Olympic sports, and as a result the secondary was depleted and opponents were able to pass at will against a glorified practice squad.
An average player would author a monster game facing this optimal scenario, and an elite athlete could rewrite the record books in one half alone. As stats and perception play a huge role in recruiting, the subsequent watering down of quality has catastrophic effects on universities and the on the process of investing in scholarship athletes and simply winning. The recruiting services, a lucrative vertical market of oversights, would note the abundance of stats and the documentation of the massacre and dominance, adjusting their star ratings accordingly. This is why the system remains tainted and at the conclusion of the unsettling narrative the false positive of superstar players and their families suffer as result, and the future of high level competition hangs in the balance.
John Lennon can “imagine” the forthcoming decades where winning and losing is banished to the Mongolian demilitarized zone as tribalism pervades and the participation trophy ascends to prodigious heights in nullifying any accomplishment of those outside of the confines of special interests and micro-demographics. Discipline and fortitude have been bartered for the surrogate parent that is the alluring temptress of the softscreen and a cross-generational pollination of indoctrination. And the recruiting “expert” has become part of an impossible problem, as defeatism is deftly engineered by demagogues. At least the proverbial little guy can share his high school sporting memory of glory of getting pancaked by a behemoth who spent a cup of coffee at a scholarship level relishing in the disingenuous framework based on the subjective and a fantasy prompted by dollars.