High school athletes can use services
on the web to promote themselves

  • As the realm of the Internet ever increases, so do the opportunities afforded student-athletes looking to get recruited by a college.

    Recruiting services are now going on-line, and athletes who want to get their names out to coaches throughout the country are being faced with a large quantity of services, some good, some bad. It is up to the student, their parents and their coach to weed out the services which will not help them and find the services that will. In doing so, they must take into consideration the advantages and disadvantages of recruiting services on the Internet.

    "Students need to get a service that has been around a while, one that has a good record of placing kids, one that readily answers any question they have, one that will find the answer if they don't know it and one that will be honest," said Jon Underwood, director of operations for Allsport Recruiting at Scout USA. "I know some of these traits are difficult to know, especially when the kid and parents don't know anything about what the heck is going on."

    One important factor in finding a recruiting service is finding one that will encourage ethical practices. Many of the services that offer quick updates sacrifice quality -- the speed disables them from being able to have some sort of damage control mechanism. It would be rather easy for an athlete who is updating his own page to puff himself up for recruiters.

    "Some college football coaches feel that the athletes give these services what they want to hear and not what they really feel," Underwood said. "These same coaches also feel that these services are putting things in athletes heads and confusing the kids."

    He also said, however, that some of the same coaches are telling kids that they need to sign with a service.

    Underwood stresses that students should get a service they can afford, but that cheaper is not necessarily better.

    "Athletes should beware of free services," he said. "There is such a mixture of qualified and non qualified athletes out there that college coaches tend to shy away from these because of all the obviously non-qualified kids they have to go through."

    On the other hand, Annis Karpenko, the managing director at Varsity Link stresses that anything is better than nothing.

    "Those that can't afford the price should not be left out of the recruiting process," Karpenko said. "Up until now, they have been."

    By using a service on the Internet, both athletes and coaches are offered a quicker service. They are able to access and update information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is much faster than having to wait several weeks to get and send information via "hard copy" and "snail mail." Also, on the Internet, coaches have the ability to search extensive databases of information -- something which is much more difficult, if not impossible, on pulp.

    Coaches and recruiters don't want to have to sift through unwanted paperwork in order to find the information or the athlete they are looking for.

    "We have found that coaches respond best to reports that are given to them with no effort on their part," said Dan Tudor, the president of Recruit Zone.

    Tudor said that a service which serves this kind of coach may be the most successful.

    One unfortunate aspect of the extensive supply of recruiting services and search engines is that many coaches do not realize they are out there. According to Tudor, this is the one real danger athletes face when they sign with an Internet-only recruiting service.

    One aspect students and their families should take into consideration is the fact that some services do not offer security for their information. That means that just about anyone cruising around the Internet can discover their test scores, addresses and the phone numbers of people they are involved with.

    In all, if done correctly, recruits can safely use the Internet to provide coaches with information, as can coaches use the Internet to get quick information on recruits.

    "The Internet provides a good outlet for recruiting if it's done correctly, ethically and efficiently," Tudor said. "It literally jump-starts the recruiting process."
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