Good news. Ongoing discussions with CDFL (Collegiate Development Football League) in New York bring the next-level closer to reality for the Niagara X-Men. Ages 18-24, second-chance to get recruited. No games in Canada. And the charity is over. Decades of charity ends. There’s a price to pay to get anywhere in life. If you can’t afford it, sacrifice a few trips down south, sell your cell phone, abstain from alcohol – prioritize. As always, we don’t recruit players with the conventional red-carpet treatment. We love all of you but don’t expect to be treated like royalty.
I’ve been an unpaid volunteer football coach 40 seasons. Then, my businesses (X Fitness Welland Inc. and Jordan Publications Inc.) sponsored the Niagara X-Men, Canada’s only collegiate club football team that plays in the USA versus Division 3 junior varsity teams and community colleges. Our sole mission was to give high school graduates a second chance to get recruited to the next level – stay in school and get a shot at the pros. It worked. Since 2005, 22 players were recruited by the next-level. Colleges, universities, and pro teams. Both sides of the border. But the cost was steep.
Soaring gas prices made a mess of our budget. Equipment and insurance policies cost a fortune. Passport requirements to cross the border added to the cost. We gave players extraordinary opportunities to play, to get evaluated on film, to improve skills, and to reach next-level strength & conditioning. FREE gym membership at the 24-hour X Fitness. FREE strength training from a system I used to train and develop hundreds of players to the next level. Here’s what happened – more and more players become less and less committed. Fail to appear dramatically rose – not showing up for lifting workouts, practices, even games.
I saw another rise – vacations, luxury cars in the parking lot, every electronic toy imaginable, Facebook posts and pictures of drinking and partying. Essentially, we wasted tons of money. I foolishly put my business at risk in a horrible economy while players vacationed in exotic places around the world and partied and drove in style. I became an enabler by rewarding laziness. Spoiled players. I never gave this much charity to my own daughters who had to work for everything they have. They had to earn it.
So the charity stopped. There’s been a seismic shift in commitment and prima donna attitudes. Many factors are to blame. I have several theories — true love of the game is diminishing and too many players are absorbing the adoration and coddling of pro athletes and university players. The recruiting process from high school to university and university to pros has become nauseating. Unrealistic. Where else in the real world do entry-level unproven rookies get courted by adoring recruiters? Where in real life do the untested get red-carpet treatment on national signing days and draft days? I can’t and won’t contribute to this mess.
The football culture loves to announce its “character-building” elements but football has lowered its standards like all other sports by spoiling athletes. Spare me with character-building when recruiters fall all over so-called star players like dating services. I’ve spent a small fortune giving student-athletes opportunities-of-a-lifetime but the return has diminished. Over-the-top investment and low-level return. That’s why the charity ends. We will continue to give players golden opportunities to change their lives. But we won’t pay for it any more.