"Buyer Beware - College and Professional Recruiting Services Aren't Always What They Seem"
It seems like almost every year, I get a call from someone looking for a list of our college eligible and prospective professional players and their contact information. Having dealt with these lower-than-telemarketing-scum in the past, I pretend to listen to their pitch.
For entertainment purposes I try to let them speak for more than 30 seconds before I begin to laugh historically or read them the riot act about how they are destroying the lives of the players who buy into their complete nonsense.
You see, most of the legitimate services out there, will outline exactly how they intend to promote your athlete. What materials, if any, they intend to send to coaches in an effort to entice them to come see your player in real life and they will wait for you to come to them.
Some services, however, are very vague in what they actually provide and simply mask their predatory nature by dropping a lot of big names and their contact information, and by throwing lofty promises at you, as if to say "look who I can put you in touch with." The truth of the matter is that very few of these services actually have your player's best interest at heart. Most want one thing - your money, and as much of it as you are willing to part with to see your kid realize their lofty dreams and aspirations. Sometimes the truth of the matter is incredibly disturbing. Very often they bought a book of contact information or did some serious mining of e-mail databases online and now they are trying to get you to pay for that FREE information.
In the baseball world, many people think that if you have the contact information for someone inside the game, a scout like myself perhaps, that you have a leg up on someone who doesn't have that information. That is flat out wrong! Although, some players can fall through the cracks on occasion, trust me when I say that most of the time, if you are truly good enough, someone will hear about your kid. Whether it is by watching their HS or college team play, getting a call from a coach at one of those schools, or at one of the MLB Scouting Bureau tryouts held around the country. Again, someone will find them. It is really as simple as that.
As far as college recruitment goes. If the service you're paying for doesn't provide your son with a platform to actually showcase himself in front of a college coach in person, it's not worth it. Even then, there are only a few who do a good job of this (read: Perfect Game).
In the softball world, the recruiting system is built on tournaments and college instructional camps. It is more about playing for the right travel team in the Summer and the Fall and playing in the right showcase tournaments than it is about being able to get in contact with a coach who has never seen you play. Contact information helps, as you are your own best marketing tool, but ultimately, how your daughter performs in those tournaments where college coaches congregate will matter a whole lot more than whether or not you are well spoken about your daughter's talents on the phone.
Parents and coaches, if a college coach has not seen your player in person, or at the very least on a recruiting video (which would then need to entice the coach to actually go see your player play live), those coaches aren't interested in your son or daughter. The printout of their stats may look great, but it doesn't matter if a coach hasn't seen your player actually play. That being said, getting in contact with those coaches can be beneficial, as they may not have been aware that your son or daughter was interested in their school. Again all of the information you will ever need to get in contact with those coaches and let them know where they can see your player showcasing their skills is readily available on the school's website.
Anyone who asks you to pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars simply for a list of phone numbers or e-mail addresses that can be found either by searching online or buying Baseball America's yearly directory at your local Barnes and Nobles is not someone whom you should ever trust to find your player a real opportunity beyond HS.
My father used to always say that just because you've left the cage or field, it doesn't mean you are no longer our student. As such, we do everything we possibly can to market our students in an honest and unbiased way. If you are good enough to play at a certain level. We'll tell you. If you aren't, we will tell you. If you aren't satisfied with our analysis, we'll put you in touch with a coach at that level, who's job it is to also give you an unbiased and honest answer. Anyone who sells the promise of a dream based on the useless contact information of coaches and scouts that they don't know is a leach.
Parents, when searching for potential recruiting services/showcases, you have to ask yourself a few questions. One, does this service have the ability to put my child in front of an actual coach? If the answer is no, it isn't worth your time or your money. Two, are they even hinting that an athletic scholarship is attainable simply by using their service? If the answer is yes, it isn't worth your time or money. Three (for the guys), are they selling themselves as a liaison between your son and potential professional opportunities? It isn't worth it! Those organizations make money by finding players themselves who can actually play at that level. Again, if a player is good enough, someone will find him.
The key is being meticulous in your research of these services to find our who's interest they have in mind with what they are offering. What's the old saying? "If it looks like it is too good to be true, it probably is."
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From behind the mask,