It’s nothing new for young athletes to have scouts watching them for new talent starting as young as age 5, but where is the line drawn for recruiting and offering positions to kids who have yet to enter high school? Does a parent’s opinion get in the way of or help a child’s decision to commit to a school?
In late July, 14-year-old Dylan Moses was offered a football scholarship to play for LSU. Though he wouldn’t be able to play for them until he graduated high school, he hadn’t even started 8th grade at the time of the offer. This situation, which isn’t the first of its kind, has been a topic of debate among those in the sports arena. Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith of ESPN discussed this situation in depth with Bayless stating that it’s “disgusting and disgraceful.”
More recently, 11-year-old Tahj Gary, who’s been compared to the likes of NFL stars Emmitt Smith and Adrian Peterson, has attracted the attention of scouts and is receiving high school football recruit offers due to his abilities. Though Tahj sometimes does his homework in his uniform and even sleeps with a football in bed at night, his mother, Diana Gowins, insists that education comes first in their home.
When asked by HLN how she feels about him being recruited at such an early age, Gowins stated that it’s both great and bad. She’s been approached during games and has even caught scouts video taping her son from outside of the stadium and believes it too soon.
“I’m not a parent that shields their kids from the outside, but I tell them that people can gravitate toward you for wrong reasons,” she said.
The article highlights concerns of parents living their lives through their children, the possibilities of injuries and coaches who are more concerned about publicity and championships for their school than the child’s well-being. One of Tahj’s former coaches, Larry Bride, expressed the importance of researching your child’s coaches and the sports they’re involved in.
“Your gut feeling tells you about coaches. You want to make sure your coach has some knowledge and they’ve played the game, that they’re certified,” he said. “You want to support your coach. You want to interview your coach before you allow your child to play for that coach. You want to sit down and see what his plans are for your child. Is this a coach that just wants to win games? Is he going to take a 6-year-old and develop him?”
Tahj, who believes playing with more advanced kids is making him a better player, doesn’t know yet what he wants to do outside of football. “I just want to be a regular kid,” he said.
BMWK, would you encourage your middle schooler to play high school sports or allow him/her to accept offers from college coaches? Are you comfortable with scouts watching your child at such a young age?