Last Updated Jul 8, 2010 7:33 PM EDT
These parents, by the way, seem convinced that paying a sports recruiter is a fantastic idea. They want me to validate their brilliant decision to go ahead and spend thousands of dollars to, um, win a sports scholarship worth thousands of dollars.
I have never been wild about families writing checks to find scholarships at universities that could end up being horrible academic choices for their teenagers.
I am even more convinced that parents don't need to hire sports recruiters after talking with Karen Weaver, the director of athletics at a Penn State campus, who has coached field hockey at four schools, including Williams College, Purdue University and Ohio State University. Her days as a coach also included one field hockey national championship.
So what is Weaver's opinion of sports recruiting firms? She insists that they are an unnecessary waste of time and money. Sports recruiters, she says, are simply preying on families' emotions so that they can "sell the dream" of hitting it big in collegiate sports.
Sports PestsWhat's ironic about the rise of these recruiting middlemen, Weaver says, is that coaches largely think the recruiters are pests. "Coaches really don't want recruiters getting into the middle," she says.
Families often feel compelled to sign up with a recruiter because everybody else is doing it and nobody wants to get left out. As a practical matter, these recruiters can't possibly know the athletic needs of sports programs across the country. And if they suggest otherwise, they're lying.
As I've written previously, only 2% of high school students end up getting an athletic scholarship. And it's not just the odds that are bad. The average sports scholarship is only worth about $10,400. If you're gun ho on your teenager winning one, read:
6 Ways to Win an Athletic Scholarship
The big college money, however, is in scholarships for academics and other talents. The typical private college, for instance, is discounting its tuition by an average of 53.5%. The best way to win big bucks for college is to be a good student. And an expensive sports recruiter can't help you with that.
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog. Follow her on Twitter.