Can you take away the bias on your kids’ athletic ability when evaluating them?

Parents, athletic scholarships, football recruitingWhile I do not have kids, I do know that parents think that their kids are the best at whatever they do. It may be in school or sports but they always feel that the son or daughter they raised is the best in whatever they do. My parents felt that way even as I struggled to get playing time on a very talented basketball team.

But when it comes to college, can parents possibly take away the bias and be able to evaluate what level their child can play at in college? My guess is that the answer to that question the majority of times is a big no. This is not a shot at parents who feel that their kid is a sure fire scholarship athlete but an honest feeling that makes it tough to take the bias out of analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your child.

Whenever I talk about starting the recruiting process, I always make sure to mention that you should talk to the high school coach and any talent evaluator that does not have any bias in the situation. For the prep coach, his answer will really depend on a lot of things. Is he a straight forward coach who is not going to feed you lines, even if the truth hurts? Few coaches are like that but that may be what you need in the long run.

The problem with parents as well as coaches taking the bias out of evaluating a kid is that few know what it takes to play at the Division I level. I have been in college sports nearly a decade and I can say honestly that I am not always 100% sure what kids will and will not get a scholarship. While some recruiting experts claim they can tell within thirty seconds of watching a kid, they are talking about the top 100 players in the country. But for other athletes who are fighting for Division I-AA and II scholarship offers, it is much tougher to tell.

A recent example of this happened when I posted player rankings for a certain sport and a certain class. I was basically told by three different parents that their son was rated too low but one in particular felt that his son should have been ten spots higher. I also know a lot of coaches who see the rankings and emailed back and fourth with him. This is a Division II college coach and he has seen these players a lot during the summer and the season. Anyways, the coach emails me and says that this kid is overrated.

So on one side of the equation, I have a parent who feels that their kid is underrated and should get the respect he deserves (The kid really was rated pretty high on this list). Then a college coach, the one who may eventually be offering him a scholarship in the next year, says that he is overrated and should fall down the list. Considering that the college coach has zero bias in regards to the rankings, I have to side with him.

This parent has been very rational when talking to me about the recruiting process and the rankings. He just really feels that his son is better than some college coaches and recruiting experts think. However, a big part of his bias has to do with how his son played during events in the summer. Considering that some may not take this summer sport all that serious, and it can be considering a glorified pickup game, that is tough to use as a real indicator.

Some parents may also use a comparison against an elite player. For example, they may feel that their son or daughter had better stats than the Division I recruit that night so they obviously are better overall. The problem with that thinking is the major recruit may have traveled the country on the AAU circuit or ran a 4.4 40-yard dash at football camps. Really, a head to head comparison is not something that should factor in.

I heard from a extremely bias AAU coach a few years back who was telling me how well this player was doing. He was a very good player who ended up with multiple low major Division I scholarship offers. But because he outscored a recruit that had verballed to Michigan, the coach assumed that he would get some major offers just from that game.

As a parent, you need to take the whole body of work into account when trying to evaluate what level your child can play at in college. If he or she plays bad games against good competition, that is likely not a good sign because the next level will be all against good competition. As mentioned, try to speak with as many straight shooters who will tell you the truth. It is important to get a real evaluation that doesn’t over hype them. I know of a recruiting service that seems like every kid rated is a low major Division I to high Division II player. In the end, most of these players end up at the Division III level.

This is a tough period because you are forced to view the weaknesses of the child you spent the last 17 years raising. Some parents are very realistic while others are not. It just happens that way. Again, I don’t have any kids at this point of my life so I can only imagine how tough it would be to take that bias away. It definitely would not be easy but is essential to targeting the right schools in the recruiting process.

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