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Friday, July 29, 2016

Sports Facilities Used in Athletic Recruiting

Arkansas Football Facility

The use of facilities and equipment in the recruitment of athletes is a very common and highly debated practice. When a prospective student athlete comes to a school during a recruiting pitch, coaches often showcase their best facilities and equipment in the hopes of swaying the decision to join. Sometimes unethical practices occur, where the athlete is told untruths and shown facilities that aren’t really available. This can cause quite the shock and upset to the new athlete who was shown and told one thing and then arrives for practice to see something completely different. If the school has high quality facilities and equipment, this is not an issue, and showing the athlete the real facilities can be an enticing technique for recruitment. The real ethical issues revolve around the lies and deceit that sometimes occurs (Appenzeller, 2011).

There is somewhat of an arms race going on in the recruiting world of sports. Competition is high and the stakes are even higher. Getting the right athletes to join the team and keeping the good ones they already have, is a tough job. Research shows that modern athletes want to be engaged. They want to be team players and part of something bigger than themselves. In order to appeal to these newfound variables, universities are spending millions of dollars to upgrade facilities with cutting edge technology, designs, amenities and features. Specialized marketing and advertising companies work with universities to create unique marketing approaches to capitalize on the needs and wants of today’s athletes. A university’s history, traditions and back story are embedded into a modern technology, based package, which is designed to impact the new athletes upon their very first visit. These marketing campaigns are expensive and are going on across the country. This new era of recruiting and marketing is proving to be very profitable for the marketing firms that specialize in this niche (Jessop, 2014).

One of the issues surrounding the facilities for the recruiting arms race is the problem between big money universities and smaller universities. It is hard to compete with universities who are dropping fifty million dollars or more to develop these state of the art facilities and recruiting packages. Smaller universities try to recruit good prospects and then the bigger universities lure the athletes away with facilities and amenities, which the smaller school simply can’t match. Some argue that the best interests of these athletes would sometimes be served better by the smaller universities, who have reputable programs, yet lack the big lights, bells and whistles. The nature of the recruiting game is dog eat dog and those with the fancy facilities usually get what they want. Even the big money universities are competing at extreme levels and some wonder how far can it go. There are on so many upgrades that can reasonably be made to facilities but new heights are continually being pushed. The battle rages on as the amount of money being spent, continues to climb (Hoffman, 2015).

While in the past, coaches may have lied to and deceived prospective recruits, about a school’s facilities and equipment. In today’s world, that situation is diminishing with the advent of mega facilities and social media. Athletes now are looking at facilities across the full spectrum of social media sites. Reviews and videos of athletes conducting recruiting tours are readily available to anyone who searches online. Hiding facilities inadequacies is very difficult to do now. Schools that spend millions of dollars on the newest and best features are not hiding anything. The dilemma that athletes face now is one that has to do with their best interests versus the ever growing list of amenities. Schools have ridiculous facilities now with custom locker rooms, training equipment, technological training aids, and all sorts of other added features. But with all of these high priced gadgets and features, is the athlete going to receive the experience and education that they seek? For many, the education part is irrelevant and is a whole separate topic of debate. Athletes today are bombarded with giant video screens, new cryotherapy chambers and free IPads. And that doesn’t even touch the ongoing debate of whether athletes should be paid in school or not. Some say that the entire recruiting situation is an ethical minefield. Others think that it is just the natural evolution of the growing industry, in today’s society. The facilities arm race continues unabated, and will likely continue to do so, for many years to come (Hobson and Rich, 2015).

References:

Appenzeller, H. (2011). Ethical behavior in sport. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press.

Jessop, A. (2014). FSU Utilizes New Football Facilities to Attract Top Recruits. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciajessop/2014/09/20/fsu-utilizes-new-football-facilities-to-attract-top-recruits/#148e770231ce

Hoffman, J. (2015). The Recruiting Process in College Athletics Needs to Change. Know it All Football. Retrieved from http://www.knowitallfootball.com/2015/02/04/recruiting-process-college-athletics-change/

Hobson, W., and Rich, S. (2015). Colleges Spend Fortunes on Lavish Athletic Facilities. The Bulletin. Retrieved from http://www.bendbulletin.com/sports/3846188-151/colleges-spend-fortunes-on-lavish-athletic-facilities?referrer=bullet1


Eric Dempsey
MS, ISSA Master Trainer
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