OUR VIEW: Basketball factories taint gameThe January edition of High School Today, published by the National Federation of State High School Associations, includes an ironically timed editorial about so-called “basketball factories” and their influence on students and the game itself.
The January edition of High School Today, published by the National Federation of State High School Associations, includes an ironically timed editorial about so-called “basketball factories” and their influence on students and the game itself.
The editorial’s headline reads “Basketball factories miss mission of high school game.” Its timing is ironic because just last week, Mitchell was the site of the Mike Miller Classic, which annually hosts a school that probably prompted the editorial.
A few excerpts:
“Rather than traditional high school teams composed of athletes from the local community, an unfortunate variation on that theme is making its presence felt in ever-increasing numbers. In short, non-member, basketball-focused schools are popping up across the nation, and with greater frequency. Rather than being education- and community-based … these so-called ‘basketball factories’ seem to exist for the sole purpose of creating powerhouse teams.”
The editorial doesn’t specifically name schools, but it does reference a “successful team from Nevada.”
That likely is Findlay Prep, whose 2011-12 schedule includes games in North Carolina, South Dakota, California, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and New York, but only four in its home state of Nevada.
Perhaps that schedule prompted the Springfield, Mass., Republican to publish a story last year about Findlay Prep, accompanied by the headline, “A high school team, without a high school.”
According to that report, “the players on the Findlay Prep basketball team are the school’s only students and they take classes at Henderson International School, a preschool through 12th grade, fully accredited private school across the street from the players’ home. The Findlay players live in a five-bedroom, four-bathroom house, purchased for $425,000 by the Findlay Prep founder, Cliff Findlay.”
The report also notes that Findlay is independent of Nevada’s high school athletic association, which means the squad isn’t invited to its own state’s postseason tournaments. The program is funded by Cliff Findlay, a Las Vegas car dealer who has been accused of creating the team as a pipeline to stock the University of Nevada-Las Vegas college program.
And this is high school basketball?
It’s an unfortunate sign of the times that basketball factories exist. The lure of big-time scholarships, college success and those big NBA paychecks are just too much for players — and boosters — to resist.
Here in South Dakota, there are no basketball factories. Sure, there are accusations now and again, but it’s nothing like what goes on at Findlay Prep. Not even close.
High school basketball should be just that — high school first, basketball second. Sportsmanship, fair play and community pride all should be included in the experience.
Affiliation with a state athletics association not only means a team can compete for a coveted state title, but also that it is adhering to rules that level the playing field.
In South Dakota, it is that way. Thank goodness for that.
We agree with the editorial in this month’s High School Today. Basketball factories are making a mockery of the great sport of high school basketball, and all of its traditions.
Our support for the Mike Miller Classic is not tainted by the inclusion of basketball factories like Findlay Prep. We will continue to attend the event.
Likewise, we will continue to throw our support behind the teams that still insist that their players perform within the guidelines and standards of a typical high school, especially the local Kernels.
Oh, we may marvel at the thunderous slam dunks by the teams that don’t adhere to the traditional norms and rules of high school sports.
But it doesn’t mean we approve of it.