With a tournament as big and important as Balling on the Beach, we were afforded the opportunity to learn a number of things, while also being reminded of things we’ve forgotten. One thing that was crystal clear from this event is the number of kids and teams that have been flying under the national radar. Although the “establishment” has attempted to set an early narrative, there are kids and teams who are very talented, but have not yet experienced the spotlight. Case in point, CSA Elite, Vegas Elite, Texas United, Grassroots Academy, Decatur Blazers and a few other teams were on the national radar to some extent prior to this weekend, but their outstanding play in Ft. Lauderdale demands that they receive more attention!
Oh, it’s not just the teams, but the individual performances as well. Although the “establishment,” (i.e., evaluators, camera guys, tournament/camp directors, coaches and daddy cliques/influential dads with highly ranked kids) continue to fight like hell to maintain their son’s early status, as we’ve tried to tell anyone who would listen, this thing (rankings) are’nt static, and will continue to evolve over time. Simply put, there will continue to be kids that burst onto the scene between now and high school and will take their rightful place in the rankings, much like the CSA kids this past weekend.
From what we have observed, the constant manipulation is alive and well, and is on full display at big tournaments and camps. Yes, for the sake of full disclosure, we’re part of the “establishment” to some extent, but going forward, we’re going to try and be a bit more anti-establishment, as we try to spotlight teams and kids that don’t have a voice or any influence. Of course we understand this approach will ruffle some feathers, but at this point, we’re off that “buddy buddy” stuff, as its clear to us there is little value in it, and youth basketball relationships are paper thin and purely trans actual!
We also learned that the “super team” model might be failing, at least in the 2032 class, as local and regional teams start to flex, and dads start to realize that the whole “mascot” phenomenon is not working, and spending thousands of dollars over the course of a weekend just to hang out with the cool kids, develop IG content, and take “hanging with my bros” pictures, is not worth the cost of admission! This approach may work a little better for the kids that actually play meaningful minutes, but you have some of the “so called stars” who can’t get off the bench unless there’s a blowout. As far as we’re concerned, playing with a competitive local/regional team, practicing, getting solid coaching and having some continuity is the most productive way for a kid to develop long term.
We’re also disappointed in the level hate and negativity displayed by grown men and women towards these young kids. As an example, we watched dads and moms on the sidelines heckling, laughing and dancing, while hoping certain teams loose. Also, we saw grown men with kids playing on stacked teams, bragging about “20 piecing” local teams, then crying and making excuses when their team finally takes an L. Bottom line, karma will eventually deal with the folks who bring toxicity to the game!
We look for significant changes in the 2032 landscape going forward, as parents and coaches look to upgrade their situations! In fact, as we speak, side calls are being made, promises are being made, and backroom deals are being brokered. In our experience, parents are going to leave solid situations in search of better situations, only to discover “the grass is not greener on the other side of the street! In closing, in the future, we’re keeping our coverage purely “100,” as we don’t need to sell tickets, and we believe we’ve earned that right!