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The article "Everybody wants a piece of Nerlens Noel" by Pete Thamel highlights the intricate issues surrounding the recruitment of teenage prodigies to the professional basketball arena. Not only does the case of Nerlens Noels expose some of the decisions that every stakeholder has to make in the recruitment process but it also presents the huge financial motives that inform the choices of coaches and professional agents (Thamel, 2012) .Drawing evidence from the article, this paper explores some of the coaching-related issues and provides alternative views on a possible course of action for the coaches.
Several interesting issues emanate from the article. As an example, the aspect of commoditization of a young player stands out. The fact that Noels could be worth a staggering ten million dollars as a teenager raises pertinent questions. One is whether the teenager can manage such large sums of money. The second concerns the autonomy of the teenager to make decisions concerning the schools to attend. The choices of institutions are limited because of the prospects of joining the NBA (Thamel, 2012).
It is also fascinating to note how the community helped to raise Noel and his elder brothers. This is important because it is at this elementary level that Noel continued to nurture his skills in basketball under the tutelage of Lenny Parsons (Thamel, 2012). Importantly, there is clear evidence that coaches play an essential role in the lives and careers of young athletes. The article shows for instance that the life of Will Blalock changed after he met coach Driscoll. Blalock is also quoted as saying that he wished to play for coach Calhoun. This demonstrates the special place that coaches have in the hearts of players.
Another critical aspect in the article is recruitment and the role of agents in the process. Despite the rules that have been established to limit the access of agents to teenage high school athletes, the financial incentives surrounding the process has forced the stakeholders to find alternative and sophisticated talent scouting ideas. Their strategy includes trying to manipulate the people who are close to their target players. As an example, the Boston summer team coach confesses to receiving several calls from professional agents regarding Noel (Thamel, 2012).
The article exposes several coaching-related issues. One issue that stands out is that coaches have to wade off the continuous onslaught from agents and rival coaches to recruit their star players. This challenge is significant especially at the high school level where most of the talent manifests. The primary role of the coaches at this level is to establish a strong foundation for the player. This may not be easy because of the recruitment culture. Noel, for example, requested to change school so that he could position himself for a lucrative career in basketball. Such abrupt changes undermine the goals of the coach. Coach Parsons notes, for instance, that many coaches had an interest in recruiting Noel during their youth basketball tours. The attention of the coach is divided between delivering instruction to the athletes and preventing potential player poaching (Thamel, 2012).
To stay competitive, coaches need to have a consistent team of talented players. The continuous migration of players from one institution to another undermines the efforts of the coaches to build solid squads. The coaches, therefore, have a risk of losing their jobs or failing to climb the ladder in pro basketball coaching (Coffino, 2017).
Not only do coaches face issues of player recruitment from rivals but their jobs may also be at risk. The controversy surrounding Driscoll shows that some coaches are willing to engage in dubious tactics to get coaching positions. For instance, Driscoll reportedly asked a player to fake injuries so that the team could lose matches. The aim was to have the coach fired so that he can replace him. Such conduct besides being morally unjustifiable also goes against the professional code of conduct for athletes and coaches (Coffino, 2017).
If I were in the position of the coaches, there are several approaches that I would implement to navigate the recurring issues. For starters, I would put similar efforts in every player especially at the junior level. Too much focus on players that are deemed to have NBA prospects often leads to underdevelopment of the other dedicated and equally talented players. This approach has the potential to build teams that are all-rounded and solid instead of building teams around a few star players (Coffino, 2017).
Generally, some of the greatest teams in sports have been built around players with more or less similar level of talent and skills. The key to success is harnessing the collective efforts of the team members (Coffino, 2017). Another merit of this strategy is that it rids the coach of the continuous pressure to hold onto marquee players. Ultimately the success of a sports instructor is not only measured by the star players they managed but also by the number of players that were considered average but became better under them.
The article elicits mixed reactions especially for people with who are keen to venture into professional coaching. First and foremost, pertinent ethical issues are emanate from the discussion. Handling teenagers like products in a market shows a lack of respect for the dignity and autonomy of young athletes. I feel there should be a mechanism that regulates the amount of financial incentive available especially for upcoming athletes (Hays & Neumeister, 2018).
In my opinion, the scramble for top prospects in basketball causes the various stakeholders to engage in unethical practices to sign the best. The article paints the picture of a system where the strongest survive and the end justifies the means. At the center of true sportsmanship are fair competition and the willingness to accept defeat and fight another day. However, the nature of the recruitment espoused in the article shows that fair competition is not a priority. People aim to win from the start at the recruitment stage. An important issue of concern is that even the families of the prospective athletes are often drawn into the controversies thereby causing emotional pain especially when deals do not go according to their expectations (Sullivan, 2018).
It should be noted that sports and recreational activities play an important role in the culture of people. Besides, the gaming events influence the values of many people who participate both actively and passively. At any given time important lessons on teamwork and discipline should emanate from the field of play and outside of it. That is, the conduct of players, coaches, and other stakeholders must radiate values that can be beneficial to society. The main controversies in high school coaching originate from agents and recruiters (McCrabb, 2018). The autonomy of teenage prospects also remains a contentious issue. It is not apparent between the coaches, parents or the young athletes who should be responsible for the decisions concerning their future of the player.
Coffino, M. (2017). Odds-on basketball coaching: crafting high-percentage strategies for game situations. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
Hays, T., & Neumeister, L. (2018, October 24). Three college basketball recruiting insiders convicted of fraid in pay-for-play trial. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from Time: http://time.com/5433697/college-basketball-recruiting-corruption-case/
McCrabb, R. (2018, March 5). Five area connections to the state basketball tournament controversy between one district and teh OHSAA. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from Journal News: https://www.journal-news.com/news/area-connections-the-state-basketball-tournament-controversy-between-one-district-and-the-ohsaa/WLPOQRtJxeibh14siMaMUP/
Sullivan, T. (2018, November 1). College basketball recruiting: Time to bring black market aboveboard. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from Courier Journal: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/2018/11/01/college-basketball-recruiting-scandals-bring-black-market-aboveboard/1826976002/
Thamel, P. (2012, March 10). Everybody wants a piece of Nerlens Noel. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/sports/ncaabasketball/everybody-wants-a-piece-of-nerlens-noel.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all
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