When I saw last week that Bryce James, one of the sons of LeBron James was transferring again – his third transfer in the last six months – and was going to be back at Sierra Canyon High in Chatsworth, and be instantly eligible to play, it made me want to throw up.
For a brief timeline – because it was a brief timeframe for Bryce – he transferred in May from Sierra Canyon to Campbell Hall in North Hollywood. He played summer league basketball for Campbell Hall but then in August transferred to Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks.
According to reports, James was only going to be ineligible for half a season at Notre Dame, so he jumped into the limo and went back to Sierra Canyon, and since he did not play a game for Notre Dame, he became eligible immediately at Sierra Canyon.
This is making a joke of high school sports. Let me say that again but let me say it louder – THIS IS MAKING A JOKE OF HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS.
Earlier this school year I wrote about the disaster that is the transfer portal for high school football in Northern California. Well guess what, basketball is worse than football.
In the East Bay Athletic League alone, there are upwards of 18 transfers in basketball. That’s not a misprint and it has been confirmed by at least four different EBAL coaches.
It’s getting to the point where high school athletics are going to go by the wayside in favor of club teams. I mean, the club teams have a heavy influence on high school sports right now, so it only makes sense they take over.
How did we get here?
I grew up to be an EBAL athlete. You played club until high school, then went to your high school with your childhood buddies, played multiple sports, and created once in a lifetime memory.
Now you play possibly for a variety of clubs, then go to a high school that will benefit you the most athletically, that is until another school could possibly benefit you more, so you transfer.
There is no loyalty – to either your teammates or your school – just loyalty to yourself and what’s perceived to be best for you.
Dealing with the cards you are dealt makes for stronger kids, and ultimately a more prepared young adult. Changing the deck every time you don’t like cards you were dealt makes for a pampered, spoiled person, and one woefully unprepared.
Once they get out of college into the real world – wait, did you think you were going to be a professional athlete did you?
According to a report from the NCAA, of the eight million athletes that play sports in high school 480,000 will go on to play in college.
But the percentage of high school athletes that play professionally is only 0.023 percent. Not trying to kill dreams here but just wanted to be sure we mix in some reality with this fantasy world where so many are living.
Where did everything go wrong from the innocent days of high school athletics.
There are multiple factors involved.
*First off, I won’t blame the coaches as they have no option if they want to be able to compete. In many cases, it’s not even the head high school coach, but one of the assistants that brings athletes to the school that play AAU ball together. I mean, it would be nice to see a coach take the high road but, in this case, the high road equals losing seasons.
*I will first blame the governing bodies of high school athletics. I use the word governing loosely and the word loosely, correctly. It’s embarrassing what is happening. In just California alone if the California Interscholastic Federation and their sectional entities would just enforce the rules as they are written regarding transfers, this could have been stopped before it started. But they don’t and have shown favoritism for certain schools or families of celebrities and allowed the situation to get out of control. The genie has been let out of the bottle and good luck getting it back in.
* AAU/Club coaches might be the bane of high school sports existence. I see kids at the middle school level starting to not play for their schools and go to clubs instead. Don’t get me wrong, most of these coaches are very good but at the end of the day this is their business and the better the athletes, the better the team, and the better the resume. The better the resume, the more likely it is to get parents to pay whatever it takes to have their child on the team. They will sell their program as the end all, and while I believe they want the kids to do well, but remember, the more success they have, the more money they are going to make. Simple math.
*Parents – this is a tough one. Yes, they are the deciding factor for their children but at the same time, they want the best for their child, which is how it should be. I do think they get blinded at the chance of success, and it clouds their judgement as to what really is the best for their child. I think they should look back at their high school years if they were athletic and see how much they recall. I see social media posts all the time, especially around reunions and they seem dominated by former athletic events. They put a smile on your face. Then think about if your child is going to have the same chances to build those memories. If your child has got what it takes, the colleges will find them.
This is the big issue surrounding high school sports and it is only getting worse. Between this transfer garbage and single sport specialization, high school sports are on life support. Many won’t admit that, but I have been around high school athletics for over 40 years, and it stinks to see what it’s become.
It can be restored but it has to start at the top and I think there’s little chance for that to happen with the existing structure.
It saddens me to see what’s happening.
CIF STATE CROSS COUNTRY
Trey Caldwell, the junior cross-country star from De La Salle finished fourth in the D-II race at the state finals in Fresno.
Caldwell led at the one-mile mark of the race but was passed over the final two miles by three runners, including eventual winner Aydon Stefanopoulos of Los Gatos.
Stefanopoulos finished with a time of 14:58.4. Caldwell finished with a 15:09.1.
In the team race Santa Barbara was first with 91 points. Granada finished sixth with 181, with De La Salle finishing 14th with 368 points.
Top performances from other EBAL runners came from Erik Bromley of Granada (31st, 15:45.3), George Mikhael also of Granada (40th, 15:51.9), and Monte Vista’s Owen Brandeis (45th, 15:55.6).
In the girls’ D-II race Ventura was the team winner with 85 points. San Ramon Valley was 10 th at 260 points, Granada was 12th with 318 points, and Monte Vista was 16th .
Some top individual performances came from Sadie Englehardt of Ventura who won the race with a 16:40.7. Top EBAL runners were Alexandra Powell of Monte Vista (15 th , 18:11.0); Sade Bumpus of Granada (29th th , 18:33.2); and Alexandra Smith of SRV (30th, 18:34.2).
In D-I boys’ action, San Clemente won the team title with 48 points. Dublin was 18 th with 457 points and California finished 20th with 524 points.
Individually the winner was Jason Parra of Miliken with a time of 14:56.8. Local highlights were turned in by Arrin Sagiraju (Dougherty Valley) with a 21st place time of 15:25.0, Aidan Stone of Dublin (52nd, 15:46.5), and Eshaan Hussain of California (79th, 16:02.1).
On the girls’ side the winner was Rylee Blade of Santiago Corona with a 16:48.5. Liana Lee of Dougherty Valley (31st, 18:22.9) and Sabrina Noriega of Dublin (56 th , 18:59.5) were the top local finishers.