The AAU circuit is headed in the wrong direction

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The AAU circuit is headed in the wrong direction
June 13
01:00 2019

Over the past few years as a reporter for The Chronicle, I have witnessed quite a few AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball games. During that time, I have noticed quite a few problems permeating through the AAU system and I see it getting progressively worse as time goes on.

I am also a basketball referee, which gives me a firsthand perspective of how many of these teams act and perform and let’s just say, many teams leave a lot to be desired. What I have observed is the players are not to blame, it’s the parents, coaches and this new sense of entitlement instilled in the kids that is my biggest problem.

When I was a kid, there were only a handful of AAU teams around the city; nowadays there are too many to count. There seems to be several new organizations popping up every year, but there are only so many quality coaches to go around, so that leaves many teams with unqualified head coaches at the helm.

Many of these coaches do not have the knowledge to develop these young players, but they are entrusted to instill the necessary skillset to make them better.  Another issue I have seen is the bad sportsmanship shown by many coaches. I have seen coaches almost get into fights, use profanity on the sidelines, and belittle their players on the bench. Someone please tell me how this is supposed to teach their players the beneficial values of playing sports.

Another issue I have noticed with coaches is the tendency for a team to have a father and son combination on the team as coach and player. Now this is not a new issue, but recently more and more of these situations have led to a team’s demise. I recently was a referee at a tournament where the father was the coach of his son and instead of benching his son, who was totally ineffective, he continued to let him shoot, which in turn caused them to lose the game.

I was amazed at the arrogance of this father. Yes, his son was talented, but everyone in the gym could see the kid was off that game. If I were another parent of a player on that team, I would be irate.

My last issue with the coaches is some are out for their own glory, instead of highlighting the skills of their players. I have heard of coaches poaching kids from other organizations or bad-mouthing other teams for their own gain, just so they can put another victory in the win column. This is really sad.

Some of the parents are just as bad as some of the coaches. I hate to inform you, but hardly any of you reading this knows the rules of the game of basketball. There are six rules about the jump ball alone that most people don’t know. It’s annoying when parents are yelling calls from the stands that are totally incorrect. My only suggestion is for them to read a rulebook.

Let’s all remember, kids emulate what they see, so if they observe you being totally out of control, using bad language and having a bad attitude, more than likely they will do so as well. I blame that on the sense of entitlement many kids have today. I did not grow up with that entitlement issue. I grew up thinking I had to put in the work to be celebrated for my talent and effort. Some of these kids think they deserve a parade for putting on a jersey the right way. That mode of thinking must come from the home.

The disrespect and bad attitudes I have seen from some of these players are appalling. As a ref, the things I have heard come out of these kids’ mouths are unbelievable. As a child I could never imagine speaking to an adult in that way, let alone someone who is an authority figure on the court. I never saw the point of arguing calls; it’s not like the ref is going to change his mind because you cursed or yelled at them. It seems illogical.

I hate to say it, but we need to cut some of these organizations, because it has watered down the talent pool too much. I recently saw a team lose by 70 points and there was a running clock in the first half. That sort of defeat can totally kill a child’s confidence. 

My hope is that something is done quickly to change this downward spiral. I used to enjoy watching the young men and women play for the love of the game, but I don’t see that much anymore. Let’s get back to the old days.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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