Sussex County Sports Blog

By Dan Cleary

4/25/2015 - Youth Sports On The Rise

     Thank you coming here today and we appreciate you taking the time to cover this most  momentous occasion. 

   After very serious consideration and a coming off a great T-ball and flag football season we would like to announce that Billy, though the guidance of his parents and handlers, has decided to make his verbal commitment to (place the name of any major university here) as a member of the  freshmen class starting in 2025.
   (Polite applause)
   Unfortunately, Billy couldn’t be here today because he is taking a nap after finally getting the hang of riding his bike.
   Any questions?
   Sounds absolutely ludicrous, right?
   Unfortunately, that scenario may just play out one day because after reading about the youngster from Wall Township making his HIGH SCHOOL commitment to one of the Bergen County Non-Public superpowers, it is not so far fetched.
   Everyone who follows high schools sports knows the kid’s name and the school he plans to attend so I’m not going to repeat them here as I don’t want to be part of the problem.
   Yes, writing a blog about it does continue to give the story life.  But this blog is not about the kid and the school but the circumstances that made this a story and that a major media outlet felt the need to cover it like a senior making his college choice.
   It is all very disturbing to me on so many different levels starting with an eighth-grader basically school shopping and picking a school a good hour-and-a half ride from his home down by the Shore.
   Look, I have no problem with a family trying to do what is best for their child, but I’m also not naïve enough to think that this family sought out the school, either.  Although it is almost impossible to prove, but the kid was recruited and not just by the school that “landed” him.
   But there is not much the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association can do because the kid isn’t even enrolled in high school yet, so on the surface, no rules were  broken. 
   That in itself is alarming.
   It also bothers me that his decision was shown on the media outlet’s website with several stories and sidebars about why it covered it.
   It was explained that is was a news event and it had to be covered.  Says who?  I have been in this business since 1988 and if I wrote or covered a story on every kid that was a youth sports “hero”  I would not have time to cover anything else.
     Do you know how many times I have been told, “this kid’s special and is going to be a star?”   Enough times that the professional sports hall of fames would be filled with kids from the area.
   And that is not a knock on the talent level in the area.  It is fine and the schools and the athletes in the area have a great tradition.
   But to glorify a kid at 15 before he has even received his locker combination is absurd and dangerous to the kid and his mental and emotional development.
   That time of a young person’s life usually coincides with puberty and all the craziness that goes along with it.  
   That is enough pressure and throw in the explosion of social media and kids can’t be kids these days.
   Now I know those who disagree with me on it being a story may feel I’m being hypocritical because I have made a living covering high school sports over the years.
   But I can’t recall doing a story on middle school kid deciding where he or she wanted to go to high school.  I realize it’s a slippery slope but I have done my best to put a positive light on student athletes without what I feel is “crossing the line.”
   And where is that line?  All depends on who is drawing the line, I guess.  For me, an eighth-grader making his high school announcement is a little too much to swallow.
    But the proliferation of youth sports in the mainstream media has been growing for years now.  It used to be just the Little League World Series final on ABC in mid-August.
   Now all the games from the regions on are covered and the tourney takes the whole summer to complete due to television coverage.  It is crazy.
   And we all know the pitfalls and corruption of college recruiting and this is where it all starts and the genesis of recruiting middle-schoolers.
   Everyone from college presidents and coaches to high school coaches and parents are looking for an edge.  And if that means earlier recruiting so be it.
   The first time I heard about a middle schooler being recruited or talked about that wasn’t a tennis player or a gymnast was when I read John Feinstein’s great book “Season on the Brink” about the Indiana basketball team under Bob Knight in the mid-1980s.
   Knight said Damion Bailey, an eighth-grader, was one of the best guards he had seen and a legend was born.  Bailey went onto a fine career at Indiana and had a cup of coffee in the NBA.
   But he was never was the best guard to come out of the basketball-crazed state.  I couldn’t imagine how much pressure he was under.
   There are so many examples of young stars being heralded before they actually accomplished something.  How about Freddy Adu?  He was dubbed “America’s Pele” after the D.C. United drafted the then-14 year-old in 2004.
   He was going to help bring the U.S. to the top of the international soccer scene.  Now 11 years later, he is playing club ball in Finland and never panned out in the MLS and for the national team.
   He is 25 and considered a bust.  At 25 most people are just starting their career path.  It just didn’t seem right what happened with Adu and the national acclaim ADULTS sought out for him.
   And my last example is former high school basketball star Lenny Cooke, who famously flamed out after being anointed a can’t miss NBA prospect.
   I had the chance to see Cooke play against Sparta when he was a senior at Old Tappan.  You could tell he was good, but what I remember was Geoff Wendell of Sparta being the best player on the floor that game in the Sparta win.
   So is the culture of youth sports going to change or will it continue to get more exposure.  Well, if you have watched the abomination that is “Friday Night Tykes” it is going to get worse.
    And here is a quote from the story done on the youngster from the Shore that sends shivers up my spine.
   “So now you have eighth graders being offered [scholarships] by Ohio State and Alabama and Tennessee and all these other big programs,” said Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “You have eighth graders getting attention from media sites. We cover what’s happening in recruiting. If they start offering third graders, unfortunately we’re going to start covering the fact that such-and-such school offered a third grader.”
   Farrell said players  are already getting lots of fan and recruiting attention, which is why, in part, Rivals has begun tracking sixth graders.
   “The decision was made because in my estimation that’s where we’re headed,” Farrell said. “We’re headed to basketball. We’re headed to sixth graders getting offers. It’s inevitable. And it’s not me that’s driving the bus. It’s the college coaches and the colleges.”
    Incredible.  Let’s hope common sense and decency will someday prevail and we can let these kids be kids.  Being an adult is tough enough let’s not make adulthood come any sooner then it should.
   That’s it for now see you on the sidelines.
4/25/2015
Youth Sports On The Rise


4/19/2015
HWS Softball To Get Under Way


4/11/2015
Spartans Eye Special Season in Boys Lacrosse


4/2/2015
Historic Week For HS Sports


3/26/2015
Tobin Calls It A Career At Hopatcong


3/18/2015
Morris-Sussex Game Lots Of Fun


3/12/2015
Pope John Makes History


3/2/2015
Lions Ready For Run


2/24/2015
Spartans Deliver District Title


2/19/2015
Chiefs Find A Way To Win


2/6/2015
Politicians Should Stay Out Of High School Sports


1/30/2015
Gallagher Named HP Softball Coach


1/24/2015
H/W/S, Morris Tourneys To Begin


1/16/2015
Newton Tradition Lives On


1/9/2015
PJ's Brown Playing For National Title


1/2/2015
Fasano Steps Down At High Point


12/23/2014
Banquets Great Success


12/19/2014
Hoops Opens Tonight


12/8/2014
Line Paves Way to Sparta Championship


12/1/2014
Transfer Rule Voted Down


11/21/2014
NJSIAA Does Right Thing In Not Moving Soccer Finals


11/14/2014
Pats Bring Back Soccer Glory


11/5/2014
The Power Of Residual Points


10/29/2014
Hazing At Eldred Cancels Game At Sussex Tech


10/24/2014
Newton Gets Tops Seed In Field Hockey


10/21/2014
Classy Smolyn Wins 300th


10/13/2014
High Point Battles Into Semis


10/6/2014
Argula Leads Spartans


9/29/2014
Jones, Vikings Keep On Sailing


9/19/2014
Lions Learn Lessons in Tough Losses


9/14/2014
SCCC Men Off To Great Start


9/11/2014
We Should Never Forget


9/9/2014
Fall Broadcast Schedule


9/7/2014
Youth Football Game Schedule


9/1/2014
Fall Sports Are Here


8/20/2014
Sussex Hall of Fame Inductees Announced


8/15/2014
New Law Good For Coaches


8/8/2014
PJ-Newton Alumni Game Great Idea


8/1/2014
Hall of Fame Bios


7/26/2014
DiPaolo Serves As Inspiration


7/18/2014
SUCO Hall Honors Parichuk


7/11/2014
Soccer Shootouts Would Be Fun


7/7/2014
NJAC Needs Strength Of Program Scheduling


6/26/2014
When Does Football Season Start Or End?


6/19/2014
Sussex Softball Needs All-Star Game


6/13/2014
Diagne picks Syracuse


6/9/2014
Perfect Ending For High Point


6/4/2014
Wildcats Heading To The Shore


5/26/2014
Talent Gap Shrinking In Lacrosse


5/19/2014
Wildcats Special Group


5/12/2014
State Lacrosse Preview


5/12/2014
Lacrosse State Pairings


5/5/2014
HWS Lacrosse To Get Under Way


4/28/2014
Morville Goes Out A Winner


4/16/2014
Weather Could Wreak Havoc on H/W/S


4/10/2014
Delaney To Return To High Point


4/7/2014
Lenape's LaBell Named Scholar Athlete


3/31/2014
NJAC Adds Boys Lacrosse


3/24/2014
Super Season For Hoops


3/17/2014
Great Run For Braves


3/6/2014
Special Night For Spartans


2/27/2014
Nanius Rings Up 2,000th Point


2/20/2014
PJ Looks To Defend Crown


2/13/2014
HWS Hoops Preview


2/7/2014
Teamwork, Seniors Boost Sparta


1/31/2014
Jefferson Boys Hoops Snubbed


1/26/2014
New NJAC Realingment


1/17/2014
Proposal Takes Aim At Transfers


1/10/2014
Round One Goes To PJ


1/8/2014
Winter Broadcast Schedule


1/3/2014
Sussex Cup Great Idea


12/27/2013
Green A Class Act


12/20/2013
Hoops Season Is Here


12/12/2013
Special Season For Spartans


12/5/2013
Football Plan Rejected Again


11/27/2013
Many Thanks!


11/25/2013
Football Finals Schedule


11/21/2013
Cronin, Braves Just Golden


11/14/2013
Football Playoffs Set To Kick Off


11/7/2013
Braves To Host State Football Game


11/1/2013
Newton Eyes H/W/S Sweep


10/24/2013
Great Fall For Lenape Valley


10/17/2013
Wallkill's Corti Captures H/W/S


10/9/2013
PJ-Sparta Rivalry Runs Deep


10/2/2013
H/W/S Goes To Power Points


9/23/2013
PJ's Izzo Picks Florida State


9/19/2013
What's Good, Bad About H.S. Sports


9/12/2013
Brown Makes County Proud


9/11/2013
We Should Never Forget


9/6/2013
NJAC Faces Changes


9/3/2013
Fall Broadcast Schedule


8/28/2013
Taunting Rule Tough To Enforce


8/21/2013
Humbled By Hall Honor


8/14/2013
School Choice Athletes Must Sit


8/7/2013
SUCO Hall Announces Candidates


7/31/2013
Team Sweeney Wins Sparta League


7/24/2013
Clarification


7/23/2013
Spartans Tap Connors For Boys Soccer Job


7/18/2013
McCarney Eyes Big Season, NFL


7/10/2013
Aiken Leaves Pope John


7/2/2013
Lenape Valley Looking For New AD Again


6/26/2013
Lowery Steps Down At Sparta


6/19/2013
Jefferson Names MacDermid New Girls Hoops Coach


6/17/2013
All-NJAC American, Freedom Softball


6/17/2013
All-NJAC Freedom Baseball


6/17/2013
All-NJAC American Baseball


6/6/2013
Tommy Martino A True Inspiration


5/29/2013
Delaney Takes Wallkill Football Job


5/23/2013
Canning, Lions Capture Crown


5/16/2013
Pope John Takes Aim At Softball Title


5/9/2013
Wildcats Look to Repeat


5/4/2013
Spartans Eye HWS Lax Crowns


4/27/2013
A Tribute To My Dad


4/3/2013
Firing Rice A Good Start


4/1/2013
Spring Broadcast Schedule


3/25/2013
Soccer Coaches Will Be Missed


3/18/2013
Hoops Season Review


3/13/2013
O'Connor Goes Out A Winner


2/21/2013
High Point Eyes H/W/S Crown


2/20/2013
PJ-Sparta III


2/18/2013
Wildcats Bounce Back To Win State Title


2/5/2013
Wynne, Lions Continue to Roar


2/4/2013
Boys Hoops Power Points


2/4/2013
Girls Hoops Power Points


1/29/2013
H/W/S Boys Hoops Preview


1/27/2013
H/W/S Girls Hoops Preview


1/18/2013
Jones Steps Down As Wallkill Football Coach


1/10/2013
How Are Good Are the Lions?


1/2/2013
2013 Comes in With A Bang; Pretty in Pink Saturday


12/27/2012
Winter Broadcast Schedule


12/12/2012
NJAC Football All-Stars Freedom


12/12/2012
NJAC Football All-Stars American -2


12/11/2012
NJAC Girls Soccer All-Stars


12/10/2012
NJAC Football All-Stars American


12/9/2012
NJAC Girls Tennis All-Stars


12/8/2012
NJAC Boys Soccer All-Stars


12/3/2012
Newton Win Worthy Of Parade


11/27/2012
Pats Making History


11/11/2012
State Football Pairings


11/5/2012
Sandy Wreaks Havoc


10/24/2012
SUCO Hall Has New Look


10/17/2012
Pope John Soccer Eyes History


10/3/2012
H/W/S Soccer Set To Start


9/27/2012
H/W/S Field Hockey Starts; State Makes Right Call


9/20/2012
NJSIAA Comes Up Snake Eyes


9/12/2012
Fall Broadcast Schedule


9/11/2012
We Should Never Forget


9/7/2012
Academies Not The Right Way To Go


8/17/2012
Football Group Classifications


8/7/2012
Horse Show Trots On


7/31/2012
Turf Field Great For Newton


7/24/2012
Martinek, Big Blue Good Fit


7/9/2012
BBCOR Bats Right Move


6/27/2012
NJAC Baseball, Softball Stars


6/20/2012
(Mugs Media Exclusive) Van Orden Takes High Point Job


6/17/2012
Wildcats Win Thriller


6/7/2012
High Point Continues Magical Ride


5/30/2012
Tech Caps Record Season


5/21/2012
Wildcats Capture Crown


5/16/2012
State Should Break Lax Tourney Into Sections


5/8/2012
Spartans Eye H/W/S Title


5/1/2012
Girls Lacrosse Tourney Set To Start


4/22/2012
Wildcats Eye Tourney Title


4/13/2012
Games of the Week Back on The Air !


4/6/2012
Scholar-Athlete Dinner Great Event


3/27/2012
Lipscomb Perfect Fit For SCCC


3/20/2012
Geffken Leaves Lasting Legacy


3/5/2012
Mugs Media Will Survive


2/20/2012
Lawrence Makes Big Splash With PJ


1/30/2012
Paternostro Passes Away


1/24/2012
(Mugs Media Exclusive) Falcons Hire DeGennaro


1/23/2012
When Paterno Came to Wallkill


1/19/2012
Vikes Hit Rough Seas


1/15/2012
NJAC Races Heating Up


1/7/2012
Martinek Wraps Fine Career


12/14/2011
NJAC Should Push Back Starting Date


12/6/2011
Football Plan Rejected


11/27/2011
Magical Season For Braves


11/15/2011
Wayne Hills Misses Opportunity


11/8/2011
Vikings Back in The Big Dance


10/31/2011
Christensen, Wildcats Roar


10/25/2011
NJAC Makes Changes


10/13/2011
DiSomma Brings Home Title


10/4/2011
H/W/S Soccer To Start


9/27/2011
Mustangs, Leach Make History


9/19/2011
Lions Bounce Back For Carlson


9/11/2011
We Should Never Forget


9/8/2011
Wildcats Show Fight


8/21/2011
Are You Ready For Some Football?


8/12/2011
SUCO Hall of Fame Class Stellar


8/3/2011
PJ's Moore Picks BC


7/24/2011
Ungerman Classic Great For Hoops Fans


7/14/2011
Vernon Drops To Group 3


7/8/2011
Kelly, Dugan To Lead Braves


7/2/2011
Sussex Stars Shine


6/21/2011
High Point Finds Solution With Percey


6/13/2011
What A Ride For Sparta


6/4/2011
Historic Blasts For PJ, Sparta


5/23/2011
Judgment Day for Lions, Vikes


5/15/2011
Ruban Steps Down At Wallkill Valley


5/9/2011
Boys Lax Tourney Should Be Good One


5/6/2011
Vernon Girls Favorite To Win H/WS


4/29/2011
Pope John Names New Basketball Coach


4/23/2011
H/W/S Tourneys To Start


4/10/2011
GIrls Hoops NJAC Stars


4/2/2011
History Made At Pope John


4/1/2011
Pope John Names Football Coach


3/25/2011
Local Boys Hoops Stars Honored


3/20/2011
Hopatcong's Rey Wins National Title


3/16/2011
Lions Saga Continues


3/9/2011
(Mugs Media Exclusive) Paternostro Steps Down


3/5/2011
Great Run For High Point Girls


2/17/2011
Hats Off To Cats


2/12/2011
American Division Up For Grabs


2/3/2011
A Look At H/W/S Girls Hoops Tourney


1/25/2011
H/W/S Boys Hoops Preview


1/18/2011
More Females Join Coaching Ranks


1/9/2011
Pretty In Pink Classic Great Success


1/2/2011
Wildcats Look To Make History


12/21/2010
Skyhawks May Fly The Coop


12/14/2010
Alumni Game Fun


12/6/2010
NJAC Girls Soccer Honors


11/30/2010
NJAC Field Hockey Honors


11/18/2010
Local Boys Soccer Players Honored


11/11/2010
Rangers Return To Playoffs


11/6/2010
Vikings Make History


10/28/2010
Tourney Time Brings Questions


10/20/2010
Power Point Presentation


10/14/2010
North Warren Football On The Rise


10/7/2010
H/W/S Tourney Under Way


9/30/2010
Stop The Insanity


9/22/2010
Tough Break For Chiefs


9/11/2010
We Should Never Forget


9/8/2010
NJSIAA Moving In Right Direction


8/17/2010
Activity Fees New Reality


8/10/2010
Zabriskie Makes County Proud


8/2/2010
PJ Soccer Family Rallies For Good Cause


7/24/2010
Is Cheerleading A Sport?


7/15/2010
Marchiano Named Sparta Coach


7/7/2010
Change Good For Vikings


6/27/2010
Up And Down Year For NJAC


6/15/2010
New Sparta Coach Has Big Shoes To Fill


6/8/2010
Shea Steps Down At Sparta


6/1/2010
TOC On Chopping Block


5/20/2010
Beatty Cup Great Idea


5/3/2010
Spartans Gain Top Seed


5/1/2010
Local NJAC Standings


4/23/2010
Bello, Lions Ready To Roar


4/18/2010
Mustangs Ready For H/W/S


4/17/2010
Local NJAC Standings


4/11/2010
Local NJAC Standings


4/5/2010
Girls Lacrosse Has New Look


3/22/2010
Sports Programs In Doubt


3/15/2010
NJSIAA In Fight For Its Life


3/8/2010
No 'Rocky' Ending For Orr


3/1/2010
What We Learned At H/W/S


2/28/2010
Local NJAC Hoops Standings


2/19/2010
Wrestling Needs A TOC


2/12/2010
H/W/S Tourney To Tip Off


2/10/2010
Local NJAC Hoops Standings


2/8/2010
Clearing Up Tourney Questions


2/6/2010
Local NJAC Hoops Standings


2/1/2010
(Exclusive to Mugs Media) Levens, Falcons Part Ways


1/31/2010
Local NJAC Hoops Standings


1/20/2010
Great Night For Wrestling


1/18/2010
Local NJAC Basketball Standings


1/11/2010
Geffken Makes Right Choice


1/3/2010
Top Teams Of The Decade


12/27/2009
O'Connor Hits Magic Mark


12/15/2009
Sports-Specific Way to Go


12/3/2009
NJAC Makes Changes


11/23/2009
Geary, Spartans Play Instant Classic


11/16/2009
NJAC Should Look At Football


11/8/2009
Sussex Football Puts On Show


10/29/2009
Great Start To H/W/S Tourney


10/22/2009
Expanded Brackets Good Idea


10/13/2009
New Tourney Set To Kick Off


10/7/2009
Classy Chernati wins 300th Game


9/29/2009
Tough Start For ex-SCIL Teams


9/11/2009
We Should Never Forget


9/8/2009
NJAC Era Begins


9/1/2009
Parzero Perfect For Pats


8/23/2009
New World For Mugs Media


8/9/2009
Fun At The Fair


8/2/2009
Fond Memories of Dick Stoltenborg


7/24/2009
Hall Nominees All Deserving


7/14/2009
Opening Day Will Be Tough


6/28/2009
SCIL Show Special


6/2/2009
Newton Makes Disque Proud


5/19/2009
Tri-County Tourney Great Idea


5/12/2009
NJSIAA Hits Grand Slam


5/1/2009
How About A Lacrosse Tourney?


4/19/2009
Levens Keeps On Winning


4/11/2009
Everyone's Favorite Uncle Mo'


4/2/2009
Morris Will Be Missed


3/21/2009
SCIL Athletes Talk Of The Town


3/12/2009
Wrestlebacks Not For The Meek


3/3/2009
Kuntz Built SCCC Into Winner


2/25/2009
Festival Goes Out In Style


2/17/2009
SCIL Swim Festival First Class


2/11/2009
Heartbreak For Wildcats


2/4/2009
Expanded Brackets A Home Run


1/27/2009
Coaches Sit On Hot Seat


1/20/2009
NJAC Releases Schedules (Part 2)


1/13/2009
NJAC Releases Schedules (Part 1)


1/5/2009
I'm One Lucky Guy


12/21/2008
Tough Break For Sisco


12/7/2008
Nice Guys Finish First


11/28/2008
Back To The Future For Falcons


11/20/2008
Sussex Perfect For Runners


11/14/2008
Fitting End For SCIL Football


11/8/2008
Other Side of Cinderella


10/31/2008
Edelman, Vikes Make Good Point


10/23/2008
Rangers Riding High


10/16/2008
Old Lion Still Roaring


10/9/2008
State Plays 52-Pickup


10/3/2008
SCIL Soccer Plan Perfect


9/25/2008
NJSIAA Lacks Direction


9/17/2008
High Point's Keur Happy To Be Back


9/11/2008
We Should Never Forget


9/1/2008
Football Deaths Sobering Reminder


8/25/2008
State Plan Needs Second Look


8/14/2008
Realingment Plan Disbands SCIL (Exclusive to MugsMedia.Com)


8/11/2008
Martinek Gives Me Knight Fever


8/6/2008
Remembering Ryan Olsen


7/30/2008
No Place Like Home For Crespi


7/21/2008
Trudgeon, Braves Had Great Run


7/13/2008
Safety First For Little Leaguers


7/6/2008
Wolf, Nottle Find Winning Ways


6/29/2008
Are You Ready For The Summer?


6/22/2008
Lanier Right Man For Skyhawks


6/15/2008
A Special Thanks to Dad


6/7/2008
Defense Never Rests


5/30/2008
Kittatinny Crew Saves the Day


5/23/2008
Bello makes right call


5/16/2008
Great to be back at Festival


5/9/2008
Softball Should Have Tourney


4/25/2008
Realignment Could Be Done Deal


4/18/2008
SCIL Teams Born to Score Runs


4/11/2008
SCIL Home to Top Hurlers


4/4/2008
Lacrosse Teams Riding the Wave


3/28/2008
Wallkill's VanZile Set to Retire (Exclusive to MugsMedia.com)


3/21/2008
A Little "Mercy" for Football Teams


3/14/2008
Valenti's Title Caps Banner Year for SCIL Wrestling


3/7/2008
Taking a Hard Look at the New Transfer Rules


2/29/2008
Giving SCIL Basketball a Boost


2/22/2008
Rasslin' to the Top... Finally


2/15/2008
Handicapping the Festival


2/8/2008
The Power of Power Points


1/31/2008
SCIL Adopts Innovative Soccer Plan (Exclusive to MugsMedia.com)


1/25/2008
On the Track to an Elite Program


1/18/2008
Adding Up the Numbers


1/11/2008
Dominating the Paint


1/3/2008
Bowling with the Knights


12/27/2007
Playing Games Over the Holidays


12/20/2007
The Mitchell Report Hits Home


12/13/2007
Are You Ready for the Winter?


12/6/2007
Reform Comes Slowly to New Jersey High School Sports


11/28/2007
Handing Out the Golden Statues


11/21/2007
Time for Change in NJ High School Sports


11/14/2007
Going a Little Extra


11/7/2007
The Single-Sport Athlete Dilemma


10/31/2007
Friday Night Lights


10/23/2007
Kicking Around Re-alignment


10/1/2007
I'm baaaack...


3/17/204
Great Run For Braves