One of the key roles that the American Swimming Coaches Association has played in American Swimming since 1958 is to warn of threats to our sport. Today, I am going to tell you about the biggest threat to American Swimming in the history of our sport.
NCAA Scholarship Swimming is under assault. And very likely to become extinct SOON if we don’t act to save it. This is critical to all of us for two reasons:
First, for all of us, the USA is the only country in the world where a young man or young lady taking his or her first swimming lesson today, has no limits on their future! They can choose to swim a little, swim a lot, excel (or not), go through high school swimming, move on to the world’s most competitive program in NCAA swimming (which attracts athletes from all over the globe, seeking what they don’t have at home), and go on to be an Olympian.
Or they can chose to do summer league swimming, swim in high school, move on to an academic life, and never swim again.
The point is, they have the choice.
In no other place on earth is that the case. In most of the globe, that young lady or man has almost nothing but limits. And most, even if they are serious youth swimmers, have no choice but to quit swimming between 15-18 and concentrate on academics which will determine their future. No option of Scholarships, no option of elite coaching – no realistic dreams of being the best they can be. Their swimming careers end between 15-18.
NCAA Scholarship Swimming keeps the dream alive! Keeps the options OPEN!
It “de-limits every American Swimmer!” Dream, Work, ACHIEVE. (If you chose to.)
Second, for all the reasons outlined above, NCAA Scholarship Swimming is the engine that drives our Olympic and International Success. Those 6,000 NCAA Scholarship Swimmers who keep swimming from eighteen to twenty-four as they mature (and late maturers are the leading edge of elite athletes) are the “talent pool” which we have drawn on to lead the world in swimming for more than 100 years now. NCAA Scholarship Swimming is the EDGE that we have over the rest of the Swimming world.
IF NCAA Scholarships go away, the USA in ten years will look like a second rate Australia – we’ll have a similar numbers of “elite” athletes, except our Aussie friends live in a country where swimming really COUNTS in the culture. You all know where swimming ranks in the USA in terms of cultural importance. So, what do we do?
You’ll hear lots of work ideas and see lots in action soon. We have about a 12-24 month window to save scholarship swimming and elite coaching jobs in the NCAA. Within 24 months, the path will be set. Universities will be either keeping or dropping scholarships and full-time elite coaching jobs by then. All of this driven, of course, by the insatiable need for dollars for football and basketball players, and 6 Million Dollar a year football coaches.
We will need YOU to rally your teams. Get tons of letters and emails written to University Presidents and Athletic Directors in support of the real student athletes: swimmers. The CSCAA and the ASCA are working together with USA Swimming to develop the plan, and ask you to work the plan.
I am personally so offended by the hypocrisy of the NCAA ad that goes on about “most of them will go pro in something other than sports.” Which implies that the NCAA actually has something to do with that! While the finance of University sport heads inexorably towards the ELIMINATION OF OLYMPIC SPORTS in favor of the semi-pro leagues for football and basketball players.
It’s a toss-up right now whether the IOC, FINA, or the NCAA is the most hypocritical organization in the world of sports today…but that’s a discussion for another day.
What is for today is simply this: if you love American Swimming, get ready to fight for it. We’ll need all of us, TOGETHER, to save it.
Let’s Go USA. We can do this. Plans coming. House on Fire. Man the buckets.