TO COMMIT OR NOT TO COMMIT…

icture this…You’re a 15 year old boy and your top priorities in life right now are (in no particular order)

  1.  Get your HS crush to go on a date with you
  2. Figure out a way to pass this global studies test coming up
  3. Find out what your friends are doing on Saturday night
  4. Get tickets to your favorite band playing next month,
  5. Don’t embarrass yourself in the lunch room tomorrow by tripping over one of those lunch table wheels that sticks out.  Or just don’t embarass yourself in general.

Noticeably missing is what Division 1 college you will be attending in 3 years (or 4 years if you’re a freshman).  But this is what is happening folks.  Kids who are just trying to get through a week at high school are being asked to make a life decision that will determine the outcome of their future when they can’t even decide what to have for lunch that day.

On the flip side, how can these college coaches know for sure that Joey Johnson will be an impact player for them 4 seasons from now??  Or more realistically, 6 seasons from now.  Because in most cases, these players are not going to step on the field right away and start.  Maybe by their Junior or Senior year.  Maybe.

They can’t.

It’s all a guessing game, for both parties involved.  The coach is basing his decision on raw athletic talent and stick skills but as we all know that doesn’t always translate into a great college player.  The player is potentially basing their decision on a plethora of different things.  Heck, all kids are different.  Great uniforms, love the coach, love the tradition, great facilities, hottest girls on the recruiting visit, academic reputation, size of the school, friends go there.  The list goes on and on.  Could be any combination of those reasons.  The parent is mostly likely basing their support of this decision on what makes their child the happiest, academic reputation, overall cost of the school, potential job market upon graduation and many other things.

One thing we should all be agreeing on at this point is that it’s not about scholarship money.  Lacrosse is not a revenue sport.  By that I mean it is not a major revenue generating sport for the majority of schools compared to Basketball and Football.  Therefore whatever scholarship money is offered is divided up amongst the the rest of that graduating class.  At a maximum, it might be a couple thousand dollars.  Sorry to burst your bubble people but THE DAYS OF THE FULL RIDE ARE OVER.  There are too many kids playing Lacrosse now and the talent pool just keeps getting deeper by the year.

So the question is….

Do I commit as a 15 year old or not?  Why are these kids committing and what is the driving force?  Btw, what does it mean to commit?

Starting with the last question…committing is really just a verbal commitment you make to a coach.  If you are a high school freshman going into your sophomore year and you commit to that coach you are saying that you intend on applying to that institution as your primary choice.  NOTHING IS BINDING UNTIL NOVEMBER OF YOUR SENIOR YEAR.  Not until you sign the national letter of intent.

I think kids are committing because they see it as a big game of musical chairs.  They compare themselves to the kid from the other town or even from their own team with a similar skill set and they wonder, “hey! he committed and I haven’t, does this mean I’m not any good?”  They are afraid when the music stops (senior year rolls around) and they haven’t committed that the dream is dead.

There are numerous driving forces behind this craze.  Event organizers and coaches are making a lot of money from “The Lax Machine.”  If the NCAA changed all the rules tomorrow you would see less “elite” club teams, less showcases and so on.  A lot of people are making a lot of money off of the irrational fears of players and parents who think they must keep up with the Jones’ to get that early commitment.

It’s also a status symbol.  What parent wouldn’t love to brag that their son was such a desired athlete that they committed to a D1 school as a freshmen.  Not only does the player gain status amongst his peers but the parents do too whether anyone would like to admit it or not.

There are many ‘feel good’ stories out there about players that were overlooked as HS sophomores and juniors that made big impacts at their respective colleges even though they weren’t an ‘early commit.’  The most obvious name that comes to my mind is Dylan Malloy.

Unfortunately, that are far more stories of players committing early and either get cut eventually by their college, don’t get the minutes, or simply burnout.

I’m going to tackle burnout in my next post.  Thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your take on this subject.  Please post in the comment section.