A recent trend on Rival Net sites, which are having a significant impact on
recruiting, is to have bulletin boards named for recruits, where the recruits
can theoretically post and interact with fans. This isn't always the best
idea - Omar Cook has had running arguments with some UNC fans who have dissed
him fairly harshly at times on an open board (he went there on his own and
decided to post to counter some negative comments about his character and game).
There are also a number of players who are dropping in for chat sessions from
time to time.
But aside from the fact that fans can screw up their own teams, there are a
couple of other concerns worth mentioning.
- Generally speaking, middle age, prosperous White guys are using prominent,
but poor young Black men to generate hits and money. White guy gets
more money, Black guy gets none.
- In at least one case, a prominent "recruiting guru" has set up a
forum for one of the kid's who is prominently mentioning said guru's alma
mater as his primary target.
As far as the first argument goes, it's certainly legal, under law and the
Byzantine NCAA rules, so anyone can do it...but the better question is if anyone
should do it.
An interview is one thing, a prospect as a chat guest is within reason, but
putting a kid's name on a bulletin board and using that kid to enrich yourself,
while he gets nothing - maybe we're just old fashioned, but it doesn't pass the
smell test. Added to that is the Black/White thing, where the White adult
gets the money by using the Black kid's name (most of the forums so far are in
fact run by middle age White guys and named for young Black kids) and words and
what we could call, for lack of a better term, his athletic image - it just rubs
us the wrong way. It's dangerously close to raw exploitation, and touches on
some explosive American historical themes.
As for the second argument, how can Bob Gibbons be a UNC graduate, and have
an Omar Cook forum, where UNC fans are coming to encourage Omar to go to UNC
-and not have it be a conflict of interest?
Our recommendation to any recruit who reads this would be to embrace the web,
interact where you feel like it, and get to know people - it's valuable to you
socially and probably financially in the long run (because you are building
relationships with fans who will remember you and spend money later) but don't
get in a relationship where someone else uses you to make money. Why should you
do that? How does it benefit any recruit to line the pockets of Bob Gibbons or
Mike Sullivan? They need you, but all you need is a court and a ball where
people are watching. Why should you write for them to make money? That's
what they do for a living. Let them do their own work.