A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
U.S. Army’s All-American Bowl Showcases America’s Top African American players
Many times while sitting around and talking to friends, I have found myself engaged in talking about how great it would be to see some of the top high school players play under one setting. The All American Bowl game does just that for those who want to see the ‘stars of tomorrow’. It is a game that allows a city like San Antonio to play host to an event that has just grown since inception. The company, SportsLink, Inc., has been successful in putting together an event that encompasses everything that high school football is while at the same time bringing together players, college coaches and parents together in one setting where they can all get a chance to ‘know each other’.
BRINING EMPHASIS TO THE TOP HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS For far too long, college players have gotten all the ink when it came to who was the best player in the country. What SportsLink has been able to do was partner itself with several companies and individuals to provide a series of awards for those participants of the game. The list of awards is as follows: Herman Boone Trophy – Awarded to the winning team; Ken Hall Trophy – Awarded to the Ball Park National High School Player of the Year, which is the equivalent of the high school Heisman; Pete Dawkins MVP Trophy – Awarded to the game MVP; Army of One Award (East and West) – Awarded to the two U.S. Army All-American’s for their commitments to their communities; U.S. Army Scholar-Athlete Awards – Awarded to the U.S. Army All-Americans with a GPA of 3.5 and higher; Walter Payton Trophy – Awarded to the Myoplex Speed & Strength Athlete of the Year; Snapple Frenzied Fan of the Year – Awarded to the nation’s craziest fan found on a search during the U.S. Army All-American Selection Tour and the Adams Coach of the Year – Awarded to the nation’s top head coach.Honoring these fine individuals is what this game is all about and it is well worth attending the luncheon awards ceremony to see these coaches and players get presented their earned awards for a game that they so dearly love. Despite what so many non-sports fans think and/or believe, high school athletics is just as important in the growth of the human spirit as would be a student who participated in choir or band. And for those students in those particular activities, they have events, some of them national, that allow these students to gain recognition amongst their peers. The same can be said for the football awards that will be handed out. For these young men, these awards are just as important as the overall competition medal may be for a choir member.
EVEN IF YOU SON ISN’T PLAYING, THE COMBINE IS AVAILABLERarely do high school kids have the opportunity to impress coaches from the college ranks and to actually see where they are against other players of their caliber. The U.S. Army All-American Game includes this combine for those players who want to showcase their skills to these college coaches who would be in attendance. With the opportunity being offered however, potential participants need to have secured an invitation by the host organization. Now this may sound like SportsLink is locking out potential players but actually what their process allows them to do is to provide potential colleges with the best prospects available in an environment that is conducive giving these young men a great opportunity to further their playing careers at the collegiate level. It’s hard for parents, especially African American parents, to actually understand how important it is for them to make sure that their football player gets the most exposure for trying to get a scholarship to play college football. One of the biggest mistakes that these parents make is to rely solely on the coach himself. That is a tremendous mistake that hurts the player because unless that individual is a stand out player, he will not be ‘showcased’ to potential college coaches. It’s a trend that is really all to prevalent these days because many of your more outstanding players come from the smaller cities and towns across the country and many of the parents simply do not have the means or capabilities to produce a professional package for their child.
That is where this combine comes into play and why it is important for parents to actually be heavily involved in maybe having a good relationship with the high school coach to obtain such information. This combine cannot take place of a video highlight tape but what it can do for those football players and their parents who can afford to make the trip is a venue where the talent can be judged and possibly contact between the player and a coach could be made. If that happens, then for the player who may have come a great distance, this was indeed a worthwhile trip. While many players may not get the scholarship to the big schools a great majority of them may have gotten deals at smaller schools thanks to this combine.
ABOVE ALL ELSE TOP AFRICAN AMERICAN PLAYERS SHOWCASED I want to round this piece up talking about how great that so many African American football players get a national stage like this game. For far too long African American kids never really got the opportunity to be showcased like this in such a grand event. Sure there have been local or regional events like this but for a national game to actually showcase the multitude of talent that is out there. Even for a dedicated sports writer like myself where I have access to recruiting websites and such, I have missed quite a bit of news about so many recruits because sometimes they just slip by. If it weren’t for this game, I’d be remiss in finding about a lot of kids who have made commitments to the big and small schools.
So if you get a chance next weekend, or you want to plan a little weekend getaway and want to see what tomorrow’s superstars look like, San Antonio might not be a bad place to visit when the 2005 All American Bowl comes to town. If you want more information about the game, go to their website at www.allamericangames.com. If not, don’t forget to see the game on your NBC affiliate and of course you can catch a recap and story about the game on this very website.