College Access Counseling

My firm, College Access Counseling, Ltd., works with adults and organizations who counsel and support first-generation and minority students on the way to college. I teach the ins and outs of the college process, helping them build social and cultural capital for their students. Click here for more information. I also write for NACAC's blog, Admitted. You can read my entries as well as some of my colleagues', here. Click here to read one of my entries in the New York Times's blog, The Choice.

February 8, 2010

Child Exploitation at USC

Just when you think you've heard it all there comes another shocker, this time about USC's committing one of its football a 13-year old. That's USC's Class of '19. According to a report in Inside Higher Ed, the USC coach made a similar signing when he was at UT--Knoxville, and has continued his kiddie recruitment at USC. Here's an excerpt from the IHE article:

The University of Southern California's football team has committed one of its football scholarships for the 2015 entering class to David Sills, a 13-year-old quarterback at a middle school in Delaware, The News-Journal of Wilmington reported. Sills told ESPN that Southern Cal has always been his "dream school."

You can read the full notice here. The newspaper article is at Delaware Online.

How many things are wrong with this picture? Preying on a 13-year old boy is one. This sounds like child trafficking to me; if it had been done over the internet by a skeevy 45-year old we'd be prosecuting him. But out in plain sight, where the context is "education," (and by that we mean "sports"), it's being presented as something amazing. What does USC hope to gain by trolling middle schools for future football recruits? Do middle schools want older men in "coach" getups to start showing up at their games? I don't think so.

I volunteer at a national teen crisis line (National Runaway Switchboard) where I get calls from kids who have been lured away from home by "friends" they've made on the internet. They get sent airline tickets and instructions, and leave with promises of wonderful relationship with ideal partners, only to be greeted at the airport by an overweight, balding perv who loves young men/women. Blinded by what looks like love and affection from someone who understands them, they're trapped by someone who wants them only for his/her own purposes.

Aside from the ethical issue of subjecting an adolescent to the pressure of college recruitment while he's still in 8th grade, how is he going to live a normal life for the next five years, knowing that if he breaks a leg or tears a tendon, USC will toss him out with the trash? Is it remotely fair to put a child, however talented, in this position? And even though David Sills says USC has always been his "dream school," how does he know that it will still be his dream when he's old enough to vote? How developmentally inappropriate is it to lock him in to USC (in theory) with blandishments of scholarships and visions of sugarplums when he should be having fun playing football in school and awkwardly starting to date? How are his teachers going to cope with a young man who seems to have his life already set? What's the point of learning English or algebra? I hope his parents are not so starry-eyed that they'll roll over for this, but I wonder.

What is USC's coach thinking? And what does USC plan to do about it? One can hope that it repudiates this ridiculous and totally inappropriate stab at building a child army as soon and as publicly as possible. If I were president, I would fire Lane Kiffin immediately. But with the power college football coaches have these days, that's probably not going to happen. Shame on you, USC. Fire Lane Kiffin and repudiate this insanity.

And just so you know, I'm not the first one to wonder what's going on here...See this post on Bootlegger Sports from last June. And evidently USC has done some damage to other 13-year olds: See this article at And know also that the NCAA doesn't seem to have any guidelines for recruiting anyone before freshman year of high school, much less make a commitment to same.

No comments:

Blog Archive

Books About College, Teens, and American Culture

  • A History of American Higher Education
  • A Hope in the Unseen
  • Admission
  • Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic
  • African Americans and College Choice
  • Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture
  • Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men
  • Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers
  • Campus Life
  • Class
  • College Access & Opportunity Guide
  • College Admissions and the Public Interest
  • College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family
  • College Gold: The Step by Step Guide for Paying for College
  • College Knowledge: What It Really Takes for Students to Succeed and What We Can Do to Get Them Ready
  • College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy
  • Colleges that Change Lives
  • Consumed
  • Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing
  • Doing School: How We are Creating a Generation of Stressed-out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students
  • First in the Family
  • Fiske Guide to Colleges
  • Going to College: How Social, Economic, and Educational Factors Influence the Decisions Students Make
  • Harvard, Schmarvard
  • Higher Learning, Greater Good: The Private & Social Benefits of Higher Education
  • Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood
  • I Am Charlotte Simmons
  • Increasing Access to College:
  • Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admission and Beyond
  • Leveling the Playing Field: Justice, Politics, and College Admissions
  • Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered America
  • Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams
  • Looking Beyond the Ivy League
  • Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions
  • Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class
  • Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes
  • Race and Class Matters at an Elite College
  • Rescuing Your Teenager From Depression
  • Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education
  • Sophomore Guide to College & Career: Preparing for life After High School
  • Standardized Minds: The High Price of America's Testing Culture and What We Can Do to Change It
  • Status Anxiety
  • Taking Time Off
  • Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education
  • The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy
  • The Bond: Three Young Men Learn to Forgive & Reconnect with Their Fathers
  • The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools
  • The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton
  • The Culture of Narcissism
  • The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College
  • The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in American Life
  • The Little College Handbook: A First Generation's Guide to Getting in and Staying In
  • The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College
  • The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfull a Dream
  • The Pressured Child: Helping Your Child Find Success in School and Life
  • The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges--and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates
  • The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
  • The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager
  • The Secret Lives of Overachievers
  • The Unintended Consequences of High Stakes Testing
  • Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education
  • What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens