The amount of money that is changing hands in the AAU basketball industry struck me today while I was attending an AAU tournament. My team had to travel all around New England and sometimes into New York for “local” tournaments when I first began playing.
As a result, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered there were 170 teams at the tournament my brothers played in today! Just 26 teams competed in the age division where my brothers competed.
AAU basketball participation isn’t on the rise due to increased popularity. It is due to greedy men who see dollar signs and start new organizations and run more tournaments.
Greed in AAU Basketball and its Effect on The NBA
The focus has shifted from maximizing children’s development and enjoyment to making money.
Today, a team could have only one assistant coach because coaches didn’t get paid, and God forbid a team to have two non-paying coaches. One of the two assistants on my brothers’ team was allowed free admission, but the other was not.
Not to mention that both of them give up their entire weekends to coach four hours of practice every week.
This person would have cost the tournament director five whole dollars to admit for free, so why would anyone let them in for free? Only 170 teams paid $450 apiece to enter the tournament, and the director needs the money! What a steal! The assistant coach desperately needed the five dollars from the concession stand and admission price.
AAU basketball has evolved from being an organization designed to provide children with a venue to improve their skills and gain valuable skills such as teamwork and leadership into an industry designed to put money in the pockets of its leaders.
AAU basketball has become the domain of sleazy, money-hungry businessmen rather than conscientious, child-centered adults.
AAU basketball has also raised the level of competition in the United States to a level never before seen.
AAU Basketball History
The National Association of Amateur Athletes of America (NAAAA) wasn’t too pleased with the way things were going. On Oct. 1, 1887, they met to resolve this issue. The result was the formation of the Amateur Athletic Union on Jan. 1, 1888. Sports in the United States have never been the same since. In modern times, the AAU is best known for its youth basketball opportunities, but its history is much more complicated. Many non-professional athletic pursuits, including college and Olympic sports, were closely linked to the AAU for many decades.
In 1897, the AAU held the first National Men’s Basketball Championship. In New York City, the 23rd Street YMCA won the title. In 1926, the Pasadena Athletic and Country Club won the first AAU Women’s National Basketball Championship.
As a result, AAU basketball gained a new focus, and its tremendous growth was on the horizon. Through the 1980s, membership grew, and youth basketball was a contributing factor. AAU had 13 age group national championships by 1989.
Adding appeal to AAU basketball was done in part by the NCAA. The NCAA restructured their recruiting calendar to emphasize summer basketball over traditional high school play. Summer basketball became a national phenomenon after that. Non-AAU summer tournaments started popping up throughout the country, while AAU tournaments like the Super Showcase started reflecting college coaches’ evaluation windows. Even though only a small number of summer basketball events are affiliated with the AAU, summer basketball is often referred to as
What’s good about AAU basketball and what’s bad about it
All my life, I’ve played and coached basketball. On top of that, I played basketball for my high school and college teams. I have watched my son and daughter play AAU, and I have seen both its good and bad sides over the years. Through a national and local network of sporting events, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), which was founded in 1880, has developed into an organization devoted to youth sports development. AAU is one of the largest basketball organizations outside of school basketball, even though there are other clubs and select teams. AAU has been criticized by former athletes and coaches like Kobe Bryant, Steve Kerr, and Charles Barkley, but there can still be benefits. If you (or your child) are thinking about playing AAU or select basketball, you may want to consider these pros and cons.
Cons of AAU Basketball
Even if you enjoy playing AAU, being a part of the program might not be worth it if you do not practice and don’t play much. Practice is rare in many programs, or when they do have practices, they tend to just scrimmage and ignore the fundamentals. You can’t become a better player by just playing games. The fundamentals of basketball are crucial to success on the court, and practicing them doesn’t hurt.