In my nine months of living in Wyoming, there has been more than one occasion where I’ve sat and tried to make sense of something. Usually it requires me asking a local, but that is completely understandable when you move somewhere new.
One thing I’ve always appreciated about sports is the fact that they are universal. There aren’t many differences from place to place besides maybe style of play, so one can only imagine my surprise when I experienced my first “I don’t understand sports moment.”
I’m going to call this time of year “all-star season.” The 2016 Shrine Bowl wrapped up Saturday, and the Wyoming vs. Montana All-Star basketball game was a few days prior. July’s lineup features the basketball and volleyball all-star games.
Why are these games being played at the onset of a new school year? Why are these games being played months after seasons were wrapped up?
I have always viewed all-star games as an athlete’s final opportunity or even extra opportunity to impress a college scout. That can’t happen when these athletes, all seniors, have already graduated and colleges across the country have already set next season’s rosters.
Regardless of the sport, an athlete’s junior year of high school is of the utmost importance. The summer prior to senior year provides the last opportunity to attend college camps. Yes, it’s not out of the ordinary for the opportunity to have a college career present itself in senior year, but you are lying to yourself if you think coaches haven’t had their ideal lineups on paper prior.
In terms of football, I understand weather is a big issue, but the ideal time to get these guys out there putting their full skills on display would be right after the season ends. They are still in football shape and a week after state finals should still be playable weather. I know these kids aren’t afraid of a little snow. Basketball and volleyball are completely different. Weather cannot be used as an excuse.
Looking into it, I understand that coming up with the rosters and coaching staffs take time, but four and eight months later, that is excessive. The best argument I can come up with for summer schedules is the need for these athletes to practice with their all-star teams, which means traveling. Summer is then the only time there is an ample amount of time and no school to work around.
I’ve read countless articles stating that Wyoming athletes have some of the hardest times getting recruited. There are multiple theories on why, but I think late all-star games are an influence. College coaches can arrange to attend an all-star game and see the cream of the crop, the best of the best, the kids from each class that have the highest chance of moving on to the next level.
If I sat on the Wyoming High School Activities Association board, I would try and find a way to move these games into the school year. From there send out invitations to college coaches at all levels and tell them to check it out. June and July are just too late. The goal should be to give Wyoming athletes every opportunity possible to earn a college scholarship if that is what they are striving for. Otherwise all-star games are just an opportunity to suit up one last time.