By now, most newspapers and websites have released their end-of-season awards.
These go by many names in different parts of the country: All-Area, All-Region, All-Conference, All-District or All-County. Sometimes they’re called “Dream Teams” or “Super Teams.” These local honors pave the way for All-State recognition and, for a select few, All-American honors.
Perhaps you saw your name on your local list. If so—congratulations.
If not, there’s no reason to panic.
Local and national honors are nice, but not receiving any recognition does not spell disaster for an athlete’s career. Here’s why:
- The selection process is imperfect. Prep sportswriters are often the ones selecting these awards, with input from coaches and talent evaluators. The writers are some of the hardest working people you’ll ever meet, and All-Area teams are often the crowning achievement of their season-long coverage. However, it’s an imperfect science. One sportswriter can only visit one game per weekend, maybe two. All-State teams pose even more challenges, since writers have to compare players from teams they might not have covered during the season. The finished products are lists that normally are mostly accurate, but even those who assemble All-Area teams would probably admit they are not perfect. Writers do a tremendous job—the best job they’re capable of—but the final lists are not infallible. Sometimes state or coach associations produce similar lists, but the same limitations apply.
- Sometimes it’s more about reputation than production. These lists are occasionally drafted before the season even begins. If your region has a 6-foot-5 receiver coming off a monster junior season, with scholarship offers from across the country, he’s probably going to make the team -- even if he didn’t have a stellar year. I’ve seen players who were injured for most of the season earn postseason honors because of their status as top recruits. It’s probably not fair, but the non-five-star players of the world need to understand that it does happen.
- College coaches don’t really care. Sure, it’s nice to be able to tell a coach you were an All-State pick, but the reality is that coach doesn’t really care. In 2010, Folsom (Calif.) quarterback Dano Graves won the highest honor of all: National Player of the Year. The response from coaches of high-level college programs was a collective, “Meh.” Graves had offers from just Air Force and Sacramento State. His lack of scholarship offers didn’t diminish his incredible season and he was a worthy selection. But college coaches are far more interested in an athlete’s film (and size) than his accolades.
- It’s an opportunity. If you didn’t earn local honors at any level, here’s the most likely reason why: You didn’t earn it. Perhaps your coach under-utilized you. Or maybe you were playing out of position. Those things happen sometimes, but in most cases coaches set players up for success. If you didn’t see your name on your local award list, view it as an opportunity. Use it at motivation. Whether you have another season of high school football left or if you’re continuing your playing career in college, you have the chance to improve and earn future recognition. Don’t complain or point fingers. Just quietly work harder so that next year, your name is at the top of the list.