The FHSAA calls it 'unethical.' But is it?
Athletic recruiting at the high school level can land a program in a lot of trouble.
The FHSAA defines athletic recruiting as “any effort by a school employee, athletic department staff member or representative of a school’s athletic interests to pressure, urge or entice a student to attend that school for the purpose of participating in interscholastic athletics.”
Article 36-4-1 of the FHSAA handbook states: “Athletic recruiting is a gross violation of the spirit and philosophy of educational athletics. Athletic recruiting is unethical and unsporting conduct, and is forbidden by FHSAA Bylaws.”
But at the same time, the FHSAA goes on to state in its handbook that academic recruiting, which attracts students to a school based upon its total educational and extracurricular program, is permissible. But here’s the catch: Schools are not allowed to use academic recruiting as a guise for athletic recruiting.
Let’s pretend schools don’t already abuse academic recruiting that way for a second. To allow one form of recruiting and not the other is a double standard.
Before I continue, there are definitely some shortcomings of high school athletic recruiting. There’s coaches enticing players with additional benefits, top teams poaching talent from smaller schools and, not to mention, the funding limitations of poorer schools.
But all that aside, why is athletic recruiting in and of itself considered “unethical,” at least more so than academic recruiting? Why is recruiting one school’s most talented athlete so much worse than recruiting that same school’s brightest student?
Personally, I don’t think it is.
An athlete should be allowed the freedom to enhance his or her athletic ability at a better program the same way a student should be allowed to improve his or her academic standing.
Athletic recruiting already occurs in high school, and it has occurred for a long, long time. I don’t think it will ever be deemed legal by the FHSAA, but I do think defining one form of recruiting as unethical while defining the other as permissible is hypocritical.