Surely you've heard this one by now...
Here's a link to the story in case you haven't: Fernley's Hart Admits Fabricating Story
GAINESVILLE -- So, some kid in Nevada made up this elaborate story about being recruited by Cal. Then the kid tells everyone he committed to Cal. Then, when signing day comes, the kid has to face reality. He made it all up. He sucks just like the rest of us and now must become a sports writer.
Just about every sports columnist in the country has written about this kid, including Mitch Albom of the Detriot Free Press. Albom pretty much gets it right. The recruiting craze is to blame. No question about that. The culture created by this phenomenon is not helping in the development of these young men.
I've referred to the guys who work for Internet recruiting websites as the worst things about college sports world since Day One. Kids these days are committing early just so they don't have to be hounded by websites every day of their senior years of high school. There's an easy answer to the problem. If you're a high school student being recruited for athletics, then don't talk to a single reporter until you've signed a National Letter of Intent. Talk to the press on National Signing Day and then be done with it.
In the case of this kid lying about being recruited, who really cares? Not me. He fessed up. (Guess he kinda had to.) Anyway, let it go. This is just one isolated occurrence. The real problem isn't some moron in Nevada. (They play football in Nevada.) The real problem: the kids who really stop at nothing to get on that National Signing Day podium. As in, there's a big difference in being a [donkey] and sticking a syringe full of steroids in your ... [pants].
It happens, folks. It happens a lot and, boy, do I mean it. It has been a major national problem at the high school level for some time now. You think Major League Baseball doesn't test its players properly? There is absolute no testing going on at the high school level. Kid shoots up over the summer and no one knows. Kid runs a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash at the summer combine. Kid gets a scholarship. Rinse and repeat.
This is the real reason (I hope) that Congress is pressuring Major League Baseball to clean up its act. I don't really care if grown men ruin their bodies to break some silly sports record or make a bunch of money. I do care if kids watching at home mistake these losers for heroes. (For the record, "Clean" Ken Griffey Jr. was my guy.)
EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog post has been amended by the author. Joseph Goodman sincerely regrets upsetting the good people at Rivals.com and Scout.com. These companies actually do great work, although I callously poked fun at them earlier.