This news comes one day after a USA Today article detailed an effort by the National High School Coaches Association and sports conglomerate IMG to create official High School National Championships in a number of high school sports.
According to the NHSCA website: "tournament-style team championships for 7-on-7 football, 7-on-7 lacrosse, boys’ and girls’ team tennis, and boys’ and girls’ team golf will begin at the Bradenton-based [IMG] Academy in summer 2010, with plans for possible national television coverage and expansion to national championships for 20 sports in upcoming years."
With stories of NCAA athletic scandals occasionally in the headlines, critics of interscholastic national competitions are wary of the impact such commercially-driven enterprises might have on high school sports.
Says social activist and former pro quarterback Don McPherson: "I'm an old IMG client, and I love what they do and have done from a business standpoint," he says. "But the bottom line for IMG is … they're not a philanthropic organization. They're not an educational organization. They're trying to make money."
Indeed, the article's author, Steve Wieberg, states that one of IMG's objectives is to highlight IMG's 350-acre Bradenton facility to athletes and their families.
Let’s take a look at one of the academies.
Full-time enrollment in the IMG Soccer Academy, with boarding, will run a family $44,670 a year. Boarding includes: accommodations, three meals per day, sport program and local activities (i.e., trips to the movies, beach, grocery story or church, e.g.), and a PRIVATE locker. The sport program includes an impressive array of services that would rival a small college; everything from performance screening and conditioning, to doping tests and athletic trainers.
Then there is the academic thing.
High school-aged students at the IMG Academy (IMGA) actually attend school at the nearby Pendleton School. While the school says it is a separate entity from IMGA, if a student leaves IMGA, “they may not remain enrolled at Pendleton.” Tuition, paid in full and up front, is $15,975 per year.
Oh, and academic program at IMGA goes from Pre-K through High School.
From the USA Today article:
Sam Zussman, managing director of IMG Academies and senior vice president of IMG Worldwide, maintains that in getting athletes into the facilities — at a cost of up to $60,000 a year, including boarding and education — the goal also is to position them for college careers.
A typical school day sees our young superstars up at 6:45am for breakfast and in class by 7:30am until 12:30pm. By 2:30, lunch is over and they are on the athletic fields until dinner at 6:30pm. Homework starts at 7:30pm and then, finally, some undoubtedly coveted free time from 9–9:45pm before lights out at 10:30pm.
"The pressure those kids experience from being drafted or not being drafted, being recruited or not being recruited, is already there," he says. "We'll actually develop an environment that we can control, that will focus on college placement, that will have the right values, as opposed to somebody just focusing on the commercial benefits of trying to develop and [sic] event."
Aaah. They do it for the kids.