NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 17, 2012

The way football used to be played

During my high school years, prep school football was very big. There was a long list of prep schools throughout New England from which high school players could choose. They would go for one year, oftentimes two years, before college. The additional years of playing put them in good stead with perspective colleges. The prep schools prepared the students to have better study skills. Prep schools picked up any potential player during these times, which gave them stronger teams.

Due to the Depression and prep schools offering scholarships, prep schools were an attractive alternative to attending college after high school. Some athletes liked the lifestyle so much they stayed as long as they could and would even attend another prep school after graduation. Some players would change their names in order to continue to play. These players came to be known as “tramp players.”

I feel fortunate that I was able to attend a prep school for at least one year; the experience helped me a lot. At the commencement of WWII, prep schools could no longer offer scholarship; the cost became too much for most students. As a result, colleges began what they referred to as the “red shirt” program. They gave a player the option to attend five years of college. The first year they would not be able to play varsity football. The incentive gave the colleges a player with five years in their football program.

The recruiting that colleges did in those days was not anything like today. Sure colleges tried to entice good players but not indulge them as they now do. Today coaches camp on players’ doorsteps to talk with both potential players and their parents. Even the alumni get into the recruiting act. With the royal incentives and special treatment, it must be very difficult for a good athlete to make their selection. As far as I am concerned, recruiting has gone too far, too much pressure on a player.

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