athletes, California Interscholastic Federation, CIF, college, football, Fox Sports West, have-nots, haves, high school, high school football, High School Sports, Los Angeles, Southern California, volleyball
A scene from (arguably) the #1 high school rivalry in Los Angeles: The East L.A. Classic football game played between Garfield & Roosevelt High Schools, two schools where the students are from the area and grow up wanting to play for the Bulldogs (Garfield) and Roughriders (Roosevelt). Photo courtesy of YouTube.
When I was a senior at Santa Monica High School in the prehistoric days of the mid-1980s,
One week during football season most if not all of the campus was excited at the plans of a small public channel station televising Samohi’s (the first two letters of Santa, Monica, and High) showdown game that Friday night vs league rival West Torrance.
Being a member of the marching band at that time, I was exciting at the possibility of the game, and the band, getting on TV.
It ultimately didn’t come to pass, as they chose another game to televise, but here’s my point…
Unlike in the 80s, every sports fan fully knows how Fox Sports West has full coverage of high school sports today, not only with a football game of the week but also feature programs like “High School Spotlight”, as well as having a Signing Day special in February where they show five-star superstars put on the caps of their college of choice; this blog does an analysis of who will matriculate at UCLA and USC and become Bruins and Trojans every year at that time.
Well, what with Fox Sports West only showing games of big time teams like Santa Ana Mater Dei, Bellflower St. John Bosco, Corona Centennial, Harbor City Narbonne and Long Beach Poly,
My high school alma mater’s girls volleyball team in action. Photo courtesy of thesamohi.com
The way the football program has been at my alma mater in recent years, any suggestion that a Samohi football game be televised would be met with chuckles by the suits at Fox Sports.
Heck, they never show games featuring the most successful high school football team in the Westside (my area), Culver City’s Centaurs, particularly a showdown last year between Culver City and Lawndale, two Ocean League teams who were undefeated going in.
This blog even covered that game, here’s the link: http://www.socalsportsannals.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/socals-friday-night-lights-2017-an-evening-with-two-undefeated-teams/
Although it’s understandable that ratings must be maintained, the fact that the same group of teams from the same SoCal regions are seemingly featured every Friday night illustrates, in my view, a case between the haves and the have-nots.
With the athletes on the haves, in many cases, not growing up in that community as for the bulk of this century, there has been an epidemic of students transferring from school to school for opportunities, playing time, and a better chance at a division one college scholarship.
That certainly wasn’t the case during my high school years in the 1980s and before, as Samohi’s football team (and the other sports teams, with one exception which I won’t name) consisted of guys who grew up in Santa Monica, knew each other, and played with each other since elementary school.
A photo of some members of a high school “have”, St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, approaching the 50-yard line for a pre-game coin toss. Photo courtesy of sfgate.com
Nowadays athletic programs like that are consigned to the have-not pile, due to the haves stacking their teams with their players traveling up to an hour or more each way to and from school.
A perfect example of this is coming this Friday, when Mater Dei faces Florida’s IMG Academy, a boarding institution consisting of young athletes who are (most likely) not from the Bradenton, FL area, where IMG Academy is located, whose main goal is to earn a five-star rating and secure a full scholarship to a big-name university.
My main feeling about this trend is…
Though I understand the motivation of the athletes and their families who throw their lot with these “have” schools; after all, who doesn’t want a full ride “scholie”” to their dream college,
I’m not a big fan of it, for one prevailing reason:
* Despite all this preparation, the odds of an athlete signing one’s name on a letter of intent to a college football kingdom like Alabama or USC, or a college basketball empire like Kentucky,
Are still very, very minuscule.
And even for those who do get the opportunity to appear in front of crowds of 80,000-plus on Saturdays, the percentage of college athletes who end up earning a paycheck playing their sport is – wait for it…
To me, and I reckon many others, the days when kids played for the school in the town they grew up in were, for lack of a better term, better.
I don’t know how else to put it.
However, I’m also fully aware that those days of a group of buddies who grow up rooting for such-and-such high and fulfilling the dream of playing whatever sport for them at ages 15, 16, and 17 are largely gone.
At least for those who are desperately looking for the inside track to a top-flight college.
I suppose there’s nothing left for me to say about all of this, except,
It is what it is.
A shot of another long time SoCal high school “have”, the football team at Santa Ana Mater Dei High School, celebrating during a game. Photo courtesy of blogs.usafootball.com