By Bob Corwin
Never has communication been easier. Yet when it comes to finding out what is going on within the world of high school girls’ basketball, the task is often as hard as ever.
Newspapers aren’t what they used to be. Many have shrunk in inverse proportion to the rise of the internet. One of the most common casualties, due to financial constraints, has been coverage of high school sports outside of football, and even that has dropped dramatically in some places.
So how can fans, college coaches and journalists keep up with players and teams across the country? The best answer is MaxPreps.
First, use of MaxPreps (the prep arm of CBS Sports) is FREE! As best as I can tell, it is the only national archiving site for girls’ basketball (and probably most other sports it covers). Every high school (over 18,000 according to a count last year), including most “prep” schools, has a MaxPreps page where schedule and results, rosters, statistics and even historical team records can be posted.
Second, when schools post on MaxPreps, fans, scouting services and college recruiters can find out when a team is playing and how the team has been doing as the season unfolds.
I regularly have to call schools to try to find out about a team’s schedule a few weeks out (like a college recruiter mapping who to see when). Sometimes I get what I am looking for with one call but all too often a second and third call are needed as no knowledgeable person (AD, athletic secretary or coach) is initially available. Sadly, that person often will not call back even if the recorded message says someone will. Even worse, I have dealt with large schools where nobody even answers the phone to start with so you can really feel helpless.
And though making it hard for a journalist to see a game may not seem like a big issue, if it’s a college coach or scouting service that winds up not giving a young player a chance to be noticed, it’s a problem.
Third, MaxPreps is living history. Team members can go online and point to their participation five or even ten years after the season. This sport is one where there is all too little history and here is an opportunity to plant some, be it a small piece at any one time.
Fourth, MaxPreps allows a team to link up with the rest of girls’ basketball nationally. Players and coaches can see where the MaxPreps Computer Rankings (not perfect but a good approximation!) place their team versus the rest of the nation, versus the rest of the state and even class of competition within the state in separate sets of rankings. Obviously, states that require posting schedules and results on MaxPreps have more accurate ranking data than those that do not.
Granted, several states have excellent sites for girls’ basketball, but if you are outside the coaching ranks in that state, you may not know about it. I find if you search the web for “School X girls’ basketball,” MaxPreps usually come up in the search so it becomes the easiest place for a coach, scout or fan to start.
Yes, some schools do excellent jobs updating girls’ basketball rosters, schedules and results on their own school web page but sadly, more do not. Even if there is a schedule, rosters are rare, results are scattershot and late changes in times and dates almost never show up.
But MaxPreps is only as good as the users allow it to be. Some states require all its member schools to post schedule, results, rosters and stats on MaxPreps, which means those states are well-covered. But states that don’t require MaxPreps’ use usually have less complete data on the site and the rankings for schools in those states are probably less accurate as a result.
“I do not have time.”
Many coaches do not want to be bothered and even go so far as refusing to identify themselves as the team’s coach on the school MaxPreps page. “I just coach” is what they say. My response is to assign an assistant coach, a team parent or athletic department secretary to do the upkeep, but even if no one is available, the responsibility to players doesn’t start and stop on the basketball court. Denying a player a chance to get help with college expenses, or even getting in a school of her choice, is not something any coach should want to be a party to.
And after the schedule and roster are posted, updating results takes just seconds. MaxPreps even has a responsive help desk if there are problems: firstname.lastname@example.org
Knowledge is better than ignorance
Some coaches think by hiding schedules and rosters, they will sneak up on the opposition. By and large, those days are long over. Instead parents and players should urge their team’s leadership to help grow girls’ basketball. It may only be a small way but posting on MaxPreps contributes to that cause.