Deciding on an Investment in Rowing Recruiting Publicity

With 7% of high school athletes making it to the NCAA level, athletes and their parents can use all the help they can get. Recruiting publicity services are athletic profile websites available for free or for a fee. But how do you know which one will best serve you?

Is there an advantage in paying for a publicity service? 

Per the NCAA, a recruiting/scouting service is "any individual, organization, entity or segment of an entity that is primarily involved in providing information about prospective student-athletes." We call these "recruiting publicity services," given that is their product.

While some paid recruiting services are smaller and sport specific, others are huge companies. There plenty of options with varying degrees of value depending on the athlete. That said, the fact is most qualified athletes can find a spot on a college roster without a recruiting publicity service.

Sparks Consulting is not a recruiting service; we do not contact college coaches with your information. As former college rowing coaches, we know publicity services serve as a second-tier resource. 

Students who take the initiative to contact coaches directly are almost always more successful in the process. This is particularly true with selective universities. We live in a world where much occurs with the click of a smart phone. College coaches want to know whether recruits are mature enough to take the initiative and have the ability to invest in the process. This is particularly true in rowing given how late most athletes enter the sport.   

About Recruiting Publicity Services

Sports fall into two categories in their primary mode of talent identification: objective and subjective.

When talent is identified objectively, (metrics like erg scores) athletes do not require publicity services. Sports that identify athletes subjectively may benefit from added exposure provided by recruiting services.

2,000m ergometer scores serve as the primary metric in American collegiate rowing recruiting.

2K scores separate recruits in a fragmented sport insofar other beliefs about key indicators of talent. So, the primary mode of talent identification for rowing is objective.

As such, rowing families do not need to pay for a recruiting publicity service as much as say, lacrosse families.

Rowing is a much later development sport compared to others. The majority of college athletes start around age 16. It can be tempting to pay for a service for better orientation to the recruiting process. That said, services orient customers off models for sports like football and basketball. Rowing families should consider saving their money for things like school visits.

Athletes can manage their process through direct communication with coaches and a free online profile. Beyond 2Ks, coaches use years of experience and national regatta results as secondary markers. After passing through the "door" required by these pre-requisites, coaches may ask for video of the athlete.

Coxswains are evaluated on a more selective level. Coaches use recordings as well as experience and coach reference. Different coaches want different things in coxswains. That said, coxswains are recruited based on their basic ability to organize and lead. This makes organizing and leading one's own recruiting process even more important. A coxswain's ability to engage the recruiting process speaks to their abilities.

While our college counseling services for rowers and coxswains aim to help, we've also attempted provided free advice in our article on rowing recruiting.

After reading this if you still want to use a publicity service, don't pay for it. BeRecruited is a free resource, though they do share data with paid services - including NCSA Sports - which sells aggressively. Using a recruiting service might enable some perspective. That said, rowing athletes should remember how they engage with the process is as important as their 2K and test scores.


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