SI this week examines "March Madness" in high school basketball, focusing on the recent ESPN RISE national tournament. The tourney "represented the NCAA tournament sensibility brought to high school," Phil Taylor writes.
The article goes on to describe the big business emerging from the marriage of big media and scholastic sports. ESPN, in particular, has made a high-profile push into publicizing youth sports. The talent is free and the rights fees are almost as cheap.
Is that where we want high school sports to go? As a culture, we long ago decided to allow collegiate athletics to mimic the pro model (except for, as Andrew Zimbalist points out, the fact that athletes are unpaid and the NCAA can claim non-profit status). Do we want scholastic sports to mimic the college model? What are the implications for athletics in education at the primary and secondary level? Who profits -- and who loses? Parents, educators, activists, politicians -- everyone needs to be in on this conversation.