It’s time to stop worrying about the future for middle school athletes

The rankings and scouting of young, preteen athletes has been pushed too far

The idea of imagining a seventh grader as the next best college quarterback is gross and harmful.

Skyline College

The idea of imagining a seventh grader as the next best college quarterback is gross and harmful.

There’s a new trend in prep and collegiate sports that undoubtedly needs to self-destruct: openly recruiting and offering scholarships to athletes as young as 12 years old.

In one instance, a 13-year-old Northern California football player posted on his Instagram page the four different high schools he was thinking about choosing. In his graphic, he described the schools as “the final four,” and a few of them range from all over the state.

Granted, this is normal for high school athletes to publicize during their hunt for the perfect college, but middle school kids? Really?

It’s not normal for preteens to consider high schools that are hundreds of miles away from each other. At that age, it’s important for them to enjoy their childhood and understand that playing sports with friends will never be a constant in their lives. Sure, a good athletic program could dictate their decision to attend a high school or not, but it is too much of a factor that parents would allow their kids to move away at a young age.

Let’s talk about the parents: They are partly responsible for this trend gaining traction. Parents should know their child very well; sending their child hundreds of miles away to play football is reckless parenting. Many approve of outrageous ideas like this because they have visions of living basked under the athletic glory of their sons and daughters.

If a solid sports program is an essential part of picking a high school, that’s fine and dandy. But what’s the difference between going to a local powerhouse and a statewide powerhouse team? Kids are worried that if they don’t attend the most prestigious high schools, they won’t be seen by the prestigious colleges. This is simply not true and the conspiracy should’ve never spread the way it has.

Decades before the internet simplified visibility, recruiters and scouts did their work through word of mouth — rumors travel. If you’re good, important personnel will hear about it. That’s how it’s been forever. And if one thing is certain, the best athletes in the country were always found, no matter the rating of their high school sports team.

Local press has always been strong in covering prep sports. However, the new age of ranking athletes from the time they’re in middle school is ridiculous and shameful, and colleges are stupid enough to take the bait. As a result, the age for universities to offer scholarships to young athletes is getting lower and lower.

For some unbeknownst reason, college institutions suddenly can predict how a 13-year-old will play nearly a decade later. It’s pure blasphemy because they’re not taking into account the physical and mental developmental spurts that may or may not happen until then. It’s putting an awful amount of pressure on these children who should be focusing on school and playing PlayStation with their friends. Instead, we’ve somehow normalized preteens being groomed to become professional athletes.

The notion that this is an acceptable action is utterly disturbing and nauseating. Let kids be kids and not have them stressed over choosing a high school or figuring out which showcase to go to next.

The ride of sports isn’t a long one for most people and youngsters need to enjoy themselves. If that’s not the main focus in middle school, then we have a huge issue on our hands.