Friday, October 24, 2014

AAU RULING - DOLLARS OR SENSE?




CP3 All Stars coach Keyford Langley has won multiple championships, including back-to-back national titles in 2013 and 2014. Steve Smith of Wisconsin United brought home back to back title followed by a final 4 finish in 2014.  The Oakland Soldiers boasted one of the most fearsome line-ups in youth basketball on their way to a 2014 national championship in Hampton, Va.  There are many memorable teams and players as well games and rivalries that have captivated the national landscape for several years at the youth level.  

Life as many have known it on the AAU level came to a screeching halt yesterday with the impactful ruling; the language of which has not be fully or formally documented to the general public, relating to the removal of the age exception provision previously in place for AAU tournaments and sanctioned events.  

Simply put student athletes who have used the prior parameters which combined age and grade based policy to obtain an extra year to development academically, emotionally, physically, and of course athletically will now be required to operate exclusively under age requirements.  

The following requirements will be put in place immediately for ages 7 to 14.

·         7 and Under – An athlete can be no older than 7 on August 31, 2015
·         8 and Under – An athlete can be no older than 8 on August 31, 2015
·         9 and Under – An athlete can be no older than 9 on August 31, 2015
·         10 and Under – An athlete can be no older than 10 on August 31, 2015
·         11 and Under – An athlete can be no older than 11 on August 31, 2015
·         12 and Under – An athlete can be no older than 12 on August 31, 2015
·         13 and Under – An athlete can be no older than 13 on August 31, 2015
·         14 and Under – An athlete can be no older than 14 on August 31, 2015

Governance over age eligibility at the 15u level – 19u level will not change.

Whereas the initial out cry for the ruling has been favorable by many; individuals and coaches have applauded what has been referred to as a “leveling of the playing fields” relating to height, athletic prowess, strength, maturity, and a more “fair” and competitive environment.  All of which are more than reasonable and realistic points of views.  Any individual with a child when first asked, “Would you like your child to compete against kids his own age?” would in all likely hood say “yes”; but let’s delve a little deeper into the phenomenon and consider all aspects for all kids.

First and foremost there must be an understanding of “what” we are evaluating outside of the situation itself.  AAU is first in foremost a business operation ~ meaning an outside business entity should not dictate any level of development for any child anywhere.  The decisions made by this entity at the end of the day relates to what makes sense for their brand and ultimately their bottom-line.  Any misconception that this decision relates to anything more than that is flawed in nature – the leveling of the playing field means more inclusion.  More teams at regional and nationals mean more hotel bookings, player registrations, more team registrations, more door money, and more concession dollars.  Losing seven high level elite teams from an event in basketball terms would be a travesty; for AAU this spells immense opportunity.  Losing seven high level elite teams will quickly be replaced by 25 more teams who now believe they have a chance to win and compete.  In the end this must be considered as the impetuous for such a move as this.

Consequently each team must independently consider and place a value on what equates to two events per year – a regional qualifier and national championship event.  The misconception that AAU is a governing body of some sort over youth basketball is untrue and has quickly been proven by some very powerful entities within the youth industry.  Rob Taylor of NYBL the top youth basketball league in the country quickly drew a line in the sand making a statement yesterday via its website that they will continue to operate as they have since inception.  USBA, which is line to become the new National Championship event of choice, also stated that “there is no current consideration for a change in eligibility requirements”.  With a four day event which will be held in Atlanta in 2015 and will ultimately move to a 24 court facility in 2016 in the same area becomes a cheaper, shorter, and viable option for teams, players, and parents who have chosen to benefit from the additional year of development at the grassroots level.  Tournament Director Mike Melton of Basketball Spotlight has also announced a choice for teams and players adding specific division options.  As well Gary Pinkney has advised the Maryland Invitational Tournament will also continue to operate as in previous years forgoing his long tenured relationship with AAU.

Early reports from the NOLA Super 60 indicate they will follow the AAU policy as they operate in some form or fashion as a sanctioned event hub.

The reality of this situation as currently constituted is that the Genie cannot be put back into the bottle.  College and University have seen the benefits as indicated by the recruiting of specific players.  ESPN has documented the benefit in their high school rankings.  Parents have seen the success and opportunity that reclassification has created.  Top high schools nationally have requested/suggested reclassing to obtain a more ready player at their institutions. The question becomes for many:

If an additional year of development; academic, emotionally, socially, athletically provides you with a high school or college scholarship is it worth it?  For the many across the country the answer will remain a resounding “yes”.  What is lost in this equation?  The opportunity to play in two events per year or to play “on a level playing field”….a playing field that inevitably will disappear immediately by AAU standards and by high school standards the first day of 9th grade and does not exist at any point moving forward.  

Does Little Johnny’s mom and dad want their child’s first experience of playing at a high level against players that may be bigger, stronger, quicker, more athletic, and possibly more skilled to be in his high school basketball tryout?  That answer may be different depending on who you ask or their goals as it pertains to having a basketball future.  Or course the OPTION to play up will forever remain but the construct/playing as/with teams that create a high school like atmosphere at the grassroots level will not be available via the AAU model any longer.

No answer is right or wrong, there are many institutions of higher learning that all provide degrees and they all have student bodies.  Yet, some prefer to attend if they can handle elite universities that some cannot get into (or handle) – a Harvard, a Yale, a West Point.  These schools are for what many would consider your elite students.  Does that mean someone attending Arizona State education is subpar?  Absolutely not – the beauty is in the option.

As long as there remain viable options, leagues, tournaments, and event – as there are now, for players to compete on an elite level in a high school style environment the phenomenon of reclassification will remain. Those teams and players who choose to compete on that level will match up and create the same excitement as they have in the past.  Those that determine to deconstruct organizationally and rebuild to AAU standards, conversely can look for/desire a more structured and controlled environment where the elements are more predictable, AAU has re-created that.  

The object should always be inclusiveness; with the goal always being that there is a safe, fun, learning environment for all kids of all levels.  Children should not be looked down upon; teams should not be criticized for choosing to do what they feel is best for their families in any instance as there is circuit and a place for all of them.

P2bball.com will continue to support and evaluate talent as we have done in the past by graduation class as in the end this will be who each player will be competing against for their college scholarships. 

The bottom-line is that the AAU decision is only as big as the individual chooses to make it.

4 comments:

  1. it really doesn't matter to me either way to go forward with the new rules or those leagues who chooses to remain the same. My son will ball out no matter what! I do respect P2BBall public message posted on here. Bottom line...Everyone should do what's best for there child/ren, business, Team and or organization

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  2. It's not fair that a kid born in Orgas has to play a greater than the kids born in September. What's the logic in it. Hey kid going on August 25 is the same age as a kid bring on September 3. If anything it needs to be done by calendar year.

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  3. This is ultimately a bad ruling because kids with summer birthdays are sadly at a great disadvantage--and are now left off travel teams that they have played on for years. The intent of the rule was stop the fraud, and intentional holding back of kids sometimes two years. The ruling should be changed to May 1 or May 31st, to account for the younger kids who have been held behind for emotional, and physical maturity issues based on being the youngest in their class. Now they are hung out to dry. Its not fair. The AAU has thrown the baby out with the bath water.

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  4. Great READ and perspective from both sides! It does make you go "hum". In the end prepare your child to be able to compete against the best whether it's a kid their age or 2 years up. This only makes them tougher and hungrier in the end.

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