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High School Athletics Losing Out To Club Sports

John Labeta, assistant commissioner of CIF San Diego, talks to KPBS about high school sports.

Guests: Brian Hiro, sports reporter, North County Times

John Labeta, Assistant Commissioner, CIF San Diego


High school athletics used to be considered the acme of a young athlete's career. Now, many kids who used to transfer their honed athletic skills from private sports clubs and youth traveling teams to their high school athletic fields are no longer doing so.

Many of the young club athletes are angling for college athletic scholarships to Division One schools. They join private clubs because they offer longer seasons and a lot more playing time than high school athletics. Club sports include baseball, soccer, softball, volleyball and swimming.

But, the club sports are time intensive for kids and parents, according to the North County Times.

John Labeta, assistant commissioner at the California Interscholastic Federation's San Diego chapter, spoke to KPBS. He said club sports teams compete nationwide.

"The exposure that is given to those athletes by college coaches that can't see them during the high school season because they're also coaching at the same time," he said.

Club sports offer a higher competitive level and more exposure, he said.

The rise of club sports means student athletes select one sport at a younger and younger age, he added, instead of remaining two- or three-sport athletes through high school.

Beyond increased competition and a higher level of play, club sports athletes are "paying to play," he said. Athletes may pay $2,800 to $3,200 each month, in addition to travel costs.

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