Colleges and professional sports teams alike pay coaches and scouts to find a certain number of players each year for sports teams. College coaches try to find likely prospects to add to their roster and perhaps to catch the eye of the public in a way that redounds to the credit of the school. Professional scouts watch players in college in an attempt to find those who could make the leap from amateur to professional sports. There are rules by which both types of scouts have to live, and the players as well have to follow certain rules as they decide what college to attend or what team to join. Questions are often raised as to the ethics of certain practices undertaken by coaches or scouts, but all in all the system seems to work. At the same time, those with prospects for recruitment need to be careful because there are a number of traps involved which they need to note and avoid. The systems of recruiting for college athletics and professional sports have developed over time and have also been much criticized for perceived ethical lapses.
The recruitment process is an outgrowth of developments beginning over a century ago as American intercollegiate sports developed and changed over time. This has involved a major change in the way sports itself is viewed in the college setting:
Among gentleman, prior to 1820, there was a general contempt for physical prowess. It was a contempt in keeping with prevailing English attitudes toward frivolity, tied closely to the Puritan ethic. The majority of college graduates were entering the ministry, hence the need for intellectual growth took precedence over physical education (Rooney, 1987, 12).
This situation changed between 1820 and 1852, with Harvard being the innovator as it established both intramural and interclass athletic programs. The first intercollegiate contest was an eight-oared barge race in New Hampshire in 1852, with Harvard and Yale competing. After 1880, th...