Alert the Media! I'm going to college! By: Joshua Chamberlain Posted: March 28, 2012
I have a confession to make: I never had a press conference at which I announced my decision on which college to attend. I loved playing sports and everything that came with it. I enjoyed a low-to-moderate level of success in my athletic career, but one of the great things about high school sports is that even a small amount of success will garner you fame and, in the currency of high school-aged social politics, fortune.
Still, the small amount of success I enjoyed did not give me sufficient reason to call a press conference when I made my college decision. There were a few reasons for this. First, the only people who would have attended were my friends, and the only reason to attend would have been to make fun of me. Second, nobody would have cared. Again, I was simply not good enough to warrant such attention. Third, my parents and coaches would never have allowed it. They made me understand at a young age that any success I did enjoy was an immediate byproduct of the play of my teammates. It did not matter the sport I was playing; my parents and coaches made clear the importance of a team.
Now, I can’t blame the kids who now choose to have these press conferences. In a number of ways, and for a number of years, I was extremely jealous of their individual success. I wished I shared their innate athleticism. I wished college coaches were the ones reaching out to me rather than the other way around. I wished there were people across the country who waited with baited breath for me to announce my decision.
Well, this was not the case.
The kids looking to set themselves apart when choosing a college have a very different reality than my own. Their skills already set them apart, and the college coaches realize that. The athleticism and skill of most of these kids far outdistances that of their prospective coaches and any of their prospective colleges’ fans. I sometimes wonder if the kids consider what the coaches are looking for when recruiting a kid in the first place, but then I remember that the coaches, for the most part, really only care about ability. Personality is nice, but ability trumps all. That is sure as hell all the fans care about.
The irony of the college-decision press conferences, however, is that in an attempt to set themselves apart as individual athletes, these kids have become trite. The press conference has become played out. It is no longer startling when a high school kid decides to make himself the center of attention because we have seen it too many times already.
Still, the press conferences continue. They have gone from being something that only a few kids do to something that kids feel obligated to do. It seems like if you don’t have a press conference, you probably aren’t that good. I know that is the way a lot of the fans feel. Still, there are a lot of folks out there who question whether the press conferences are in the best interests of the kids, themselves.
The nice part, of course, is that the press conferences make no difference in the long run. The players will either get the job done at the next level or they won’t. Whether or not a kid feels the need to announce his college decision to the world (even if the world doesn’t really give a damn) cannot be used as an indicator of future success.
My guess is that there are a lot of fans out there like me who despise these things. We hate turning on the television or opening a newspaper to read about the high school phenom making his pick from the laundry list of college offers. We scoff at the kid and wonder aloud whether or not he can actually read the words on the letter of intent he can sign. We shake our heads in disgust at the thought of how many more capable students were denied admission at the school in order to make a place for this guy.
And then, when the disgust has overwhelmed us, we turn off the television. We close the newspaper. We shut our eyes and wonder the lasting, lingering question that all of these kids’ nauseating self-congratulation brings up: