Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Going to the belly of the youth sports beast

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Your master of bloggery is taking a few days this week to pack up and move stuff from his mother-in-law’s condo in Bradenton, Fla., back to the greater Chicagoland area, as we natives like to call it. I’ll blog when I can, in between packing and loading boxes, and driving a Budget rental truck for two days.

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Approximation of the view of the drive between Atlanta and Chattanooga.

In the youth sports world, Bradenton is known as the home of the original youth sports factory, the Nick Bollittieri Tennis Academy, founded in 1978. In 1987, it was bought by, egad, a sports agency and became IMG Academies, which has attempted to extend the childhood-ruining that Bollittieri brought to tennis into soccer, basketball, baseball and golf.

That’s not completely fair. Plenty of young athletes, and pro athletes, go there for part-time training. But plenty of parents have decided that going whole-hog into travel ball just isn’t insane enough, and have uprooted their families to Bradenton so junior can train for the big-time. The IMG Academies’ alumni lists are impressive (go browse it yourself if you want a look). But realizing how few true success stories there are makes you realize that — well, maybe outside of tennis — spending big bucks for the biggest-time training in the world guarantees nothing. Just like how stupid kids emerge from tony private schools, too.

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If your child wants to learn how to deliver illegal, but gratifying right hook, screw IMG Academies. Send your kid to Yale.

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