The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

The student news site of Edwardsville High School

Tiger Times

It’s All About the Money: Schools Don’t Care About the Players

Last college basketball season, high school senior Bronny James was among the nation’s top recruits, ranking No. 17 in 247 Sports’ prospect rankings.

Was it because the scouts knew that he would go on to average five points per game and shoot 36% from the field in his freshman campaign? No. He was so sought after because schools knew that having the son of one of the greatest players of all time, LeBron James, would rake in money from ad deals, jersey sales and tickets.

Unfortunately, recruiting players for the name on the back of their jersey isn’t enough. Having LeBron’s kid on the court to turn the ball over and miss wide-open looks doesn’t make your team any better; in fact, USC, the school that Bronny committed to, finished 15-18, their worst record in 10 seasons.

This isn’t to say that programs shouldn’t aim to make money. After all, you have an arena, coaches, and workers to pay for. Still, college programs value players more for their in-game production and monetary worth than the people they are when they’re not under the bright lights.

Cornerback Richard Sherman, who played five seasons for the Stanford Cardinal, said that constant pinballing between workouts and practices and lectures doesn’t allow student athletes to take advantage of the free, world-class education that’s provided to them.

“You wake up in the morning and you have weights at this time,” he said. “Then, after weights, you go to class. After class, you go to grab a quick bite to eat. Then … you go straight to meetings, and after meetings you go to practice, and after practice you go to try to get all the work done you had throughout the day.”

If schools cared more about the players than their on-field production, they wouldn’t jam-pack the schedules of 19-year-olds to the point where they’re missing out on some of the greatest educational opportunities available to anyone.

The missed opportunities don’t start in college. At the high school level, after-school study sessions are replaced by hours-long training, free time is filled up by physical therapy and open weekends are packed by scout camps.

Often, the recruiting process starts well before high school–sometimes even before junior high. According to George Dorhmmann, a Pulitzer Prize-winning sports writer, some recruits start being scouted at age 10, almost a decade before they first suit up for a college team.

Additionally, the recruiting process itself is mentally taxing. According to psychologist Nick Kenien, the constant pressure for student athletes to perform so that powerhouse programs can notice them is added to by parents and coaches.

“Even if [the athletes] try to talk about something else the conversation always gets back to: ‘Have you practiced today? Have you trained today?’” Kenien said in an interview with the York Dispatch. “So, they feel the pressure and start to lose that joy.”

Once athletes reach the next level, that joy isn’t guaranteed to come back. According to a 2022 study by the NCAA, 40% of male athletes and 61% of female athletes cited mental health as a reason for transferring to other schools, more than playing time, financial reasons or family.

According to the same survey, just 55% of male athletes and 47% of female athletes believe that mental health is a priority to their school’s athletic department. 

Because some of these departments are raking in over $10 million in annual profit, it’s clear to see that there’s a disconnect between the school’s profit and the support they show their students. 

When a 2023 study of more than 600 college athletes shows that anywhere from 15% to 33% of student athletes show serious signs of depression, the NCAA doesn’t have a problem–it has a crisis.

Then again, why worry about mental health when you can just win championships?


About the Contributor
Zach Kennett
Zach Kennett, Sports Editor
Zach Kennett is a first-time journalism student and first-time member of the Claw. He currently serves as the co-editor-in-chief of The Tiger, which is the school’s yearbook. He formerly served as the managing editor. He has also won two sectional titles in scholastic journalism, with one being in news writing and the other being in sports writing. Zach enjoys spending his (dwindling) free time with his dogs, playing video games, cooking or driving his truck, Hank. Being a member of the Claw is important to him in that he was previously mentored by former Claw members and looks forward to leaving his mark on the publication.