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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why schollys are a good thing

An owner whom I respect deeply and I disagree on schollys, but it's mostly an argument over free enterprise vs. external (via a governing body) control. He doesn't like schollys because he doesn't give them, yet feels he can't compete against programs that do. I argue that you can't offer schollys unless you can afford to... so being able to offer schollys is an incentive to get your team on sound financial footing. Some feel as through the leagues/USAH should protect teams by banning schollys. However, I submit teams are still ultimately responsible and accountable for their own financial situation, and no amount of micromanaging legislation is going to prevent failures (though better due diligence at the front end goes a long way).

If I'm in the WSHL, knowing the regional talent pool is thin, how do I recruit Minnesota kids to a below average league if it costs $6k, when the kids can stay home and play in the MnJHL for half that or less? The league is legislating itself into a competitive disadvantage, when what it needs to do is focus on improving the financial situation of member teams.

I'll try a different kind of example... I work for a medical school, and we have a limited talent pool each year from which we (and 150 other medical schools in the country) select kids for admission. We're trying hard to become a top-10 program, but know that part of being one means recruiting the best kids. How are we going to do that? Well gee, we're going to throw money at them, and so our strategy is to build our endowment such that we can offer everyone a free ride (a scholly).

Junior hockey is no different. Cost is a developmental barrier for hockey players just as it is for prospective medical students. If you help remove the barriers, better athletes will walk through the door... and the game will become stronger as a result.

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