The Sponsoring Industry in High School

The Ball Family

In the growing bubble of high school athletics sponsoring, kids and schools are being given tens of thousands of dollars, even up to a million dollars to sponsor their company and promote their brand. Imagine a family, where the craze over wanting a sponsorship is so high, parents are claiming their sons should receive a 1 billion dollar sponsorship for basketball while one of the sons is just 15 years old. This is no imagination, this is the real world, and people such as Lavar Ball are crazy thinking their teenage sons should be receiving money for basketball, while they are still playing high school basketball. The market is bringing in tons of revenue for big commercial brands such as Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, etc. However, big commercial brands are not always worried about the wellbeing of their clients, but more about the money they can make off them. Even though these parents and their children may be making big decisions with lots of thought and accepting the positives and negatives of the deals, the students still are being pressured to perform on the field, while being pressured to perform in school. In addition, they are being given a false reality that sports will always bring them money for the rest of their lives, and make them too confident about their future. High school scholarships should be stopped because they are pressuring students and giving kids too much confidence, that could ultimately hurt them in the future.

When schools and students receive a sponsorship from a company, they are required to perform to certain standards in order to receive actual money or discounts that are a part of the deal. At Bingham High School, the program was given 10,000 dollars annually in sponsorships by Nike and expected to perform in exchange for the sponsorship. The team, as a result, was held to high standards and expected to put a certain level on the football field. Even though the football team had to be good to get a sponsorship, there is added pressure from the sponsorship itself on the kids to perform. When it comes to accepting these deals, parents may think through the situation and think about the pressure that student-athlete can handle, but sometimes we dive head first into things with a positive attitude without realizing things can go wrong. Being a student- athlete myself, I know the pressure involved just with athletics and school which is already high. I know adding the necessity of having to succeed in sports in order to make sure my school keeps a scholarship is very pressurizing. Even though it’s hard to always remember, high school athletes are just kids, and there is always a breaking point. A sad but true story about the pressure these students can face when being expected to succeed on the court and in school is Matt Gerakis. He committed suicide after a series of bad events. His junior year, Matt was the star of the basketball team and had state championship hopes. However, when the team lost in the semifinals, Matt felt he did not perform to the best of his ability and felt it was his fault the whole team lost. In addition, Matt played through multiple injuries because of the pressure he felt to contribute to the winning success of the team. However, after the season he was told he might never play basketball again because of the severity of his injuries and genetic problems. Even though Matt was one of the smartest kids in the school, scoring a perfect score on his SAT, sports broke him on the inside in a way he could never recover. After multiple surgeries and not being able to play basketball at his best, Matt committed suicide by running in front of a train. Even though Matt did not receive a scholarship himself, it’s clear to see the connection between the pressure in sports and school adding up.Matt did not even have the necessity of having to perform up to a sponsorship, but the pressure was still enough to make himself take his own life. If the idea of a sponsorship was added into this mix, think about how much worse Matt would have felt not just about his team, but himself as a player. When it comes to sponsoring these student-athletes, companies need to think about the pressure they are putting on students and how they can break.

In addition to this when kids receive a scholarship themselves, they gain too much confidence and might not want to do as good in school anymore. As an article stated, when kids are given money for performing, they think they can earn this money easily by just playing sports. As they start to lose the attention of the school, they think basketball or football is their life. However, when it comes to football, out of all the D1 college athletes, only .01% are selected to play at the next level, at the NFL. This poses a necessity for education for these other students that had the hopes of reaching the professional sports industry but didn’t make it. Even though not all young high school athletes might realize, life doesn’t always work out how you want it to, and there is going to be the need for a backup plan, and an education is necessary in order to have that backup plan. An excellent example of this is former FSU football safety Myron Rolle’s. Despite being projected a second-round pick in the NFL Draft, he was drafted late in the sixth round. Rolles never touched the football field, being released by the Titans in 2011 after spending time on the practice squad, and being cut by the Steelers before the start of the 2012 season. However, Rolles had a passion for medicine and studied hard to make sure there was a backup plan as a doctor in case football didn’t work out. Recently, Rolles was accepted to Harvard to complete his residency and is set to become a neurosurgeon soon. If Rolles slacked off in college, he probably would not have a backup plan, and his future could have been bad. If these kids keep thinking that sponsorships and money will be coming their way, they will never work hard to earn their money in the real world, and they will slack off in school. Sponsorships never teach these kids the lessons of life and the education that is necessary to succeed.

While many claim that these sponsorships are earned by the student and that they deserve to get what they put on the field, students are just kids playing their sport that they have a passion for. By bringing them into the big market of sponsoring, parents and kids are agreeing to the expectations of high performance in athletics and school at the same time. And there is also a risk from the business side of giving money to the athletes, but not getting the expected performance back. But at what point can we say that giving these sponsorships is really beneficial for the students? It can give the students some money, but when does the factor of money become more important than staying healthy mentally and physically for the future. Overall it is important that this industry is cut short because it is not in the best interest of student-athletes and their high schools most of the time. There may be the occasional superstar who rises from beneath and his sponsors bring him there, but how many superstars do you know like that? When kids are stressed, there are many consequences that a student can face not just physiologically, but also psychologically. When all this pain and stress builds up in a student, and there is no way for them to release their anger, they can break, just like Matt Gerakis. Also, it is important that we teach growing teenagers how to be responsible as they grow up. If these companies loathe money to children in order to further their profits, the children are not learning about earning money in the real world, especially when only 2% of NCAA athletes make it to the next level of their sport. By not teaching them how to take care of themselves, the future of these children is at risk.