Interscholastic high school sports have been around since the 1880s, and have come a long way since kids were running around trying to throw a peach into a basket. Now, playing sports for high school can allow players to earn college scholarships and money. But how many of those players have been playing club sports since they were younger? Has the idea of club sports impacted the game that is known as high school athletics?
Club sports were not very common until they hit an epic boom in the 1990s and 2000s. Back in the 1900s, if anyone was athletic enough they usually made the high school team. Now, high school sports become very competitive, because athletes compete at a higher level and have been playing their whole childhood. Some coaches make the argument that it is better to have club players in their sport because it allows more time for strategy instead of working on fundamentals. “It helps in basketball because to develop a high level of skills takes time and commitment. However, with club players, we can focus more time on shooting and x’s and o’s,” said girls varsity basketball coach, Jeff Gomer.
Playing other kids at a high level can help players when it comes to trying out for school. Junior basketball player Sydney Bevington has already been offered a few athletic scholarships from Division 1 colleges. Bevington said that she was noticed and established connections mainly through her club teams. “College coaches viewed me through various club tournaments and evaluated me, and playing at both levels I was able to be seen more often and develop more connections with colleges I had an interest in,” said Bevington.
Club sports have had an impact on the level of high school sports, including the pace of play and the skill level of athletes. “I think competitive sports have further developed and prepared athletes for high school,” said Bevington. “The amount of talent has definitely increased because most club basketball player’s end goal is to be able to play at the collegiate level. Playing with and against those who have the same motivation and aspirations is challenging but also very helpful.” Clubs have helped in the recruiting process by allowing their teams to travel and be seen by college coaches that would not normally come to Colorado to watch players play. With clubs traveling for out of state showcases, it has become more possible for athletes to be recognized for their talent and passion for a sport.
However, the influence of club sports is not always positive in high school athletic programs. “The high school skill level has improved, however, it has created some problems in the perception of athletic ability,” said athletic director Jim Hynes. Some athletes have had to choose between their club sport and their high school sport because some club sports do not allow players to play for their school. Athletes that have not played club sports can be at a disadvantage compared to club players when trying out for their high school teams. Clubs have also started to require players at a young age to decide to play one sport year-round. According to an article by the University of Virginia, playing a single sport can increase the “risk of an overuse injury, cause burnouts of that child playing that sport, social isolation, and decrease overall athletic development.”
Club sports have impacted high school sports throughout time, ¨I’m very grateful to have made a difference on the court and be surrounded by players who are equally as devoted and share a love for the game. Without playing competitively I don’t think I would have been able to make that jump into playing at a higher level,” said Bevington. Some believe that club sports have helped shape high school athletics into what they are today, but will club sports lead to the end of high school athletics?