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Sports Business

Youth basketball = big business

March 20, 2008
It seems there are many people and businesses these days fighting to get a piece of youth basketball. Talks between the NCAA and NBA started heating up last month about forming a coalition to launch co-branded youth basketball leagues and tournaments. NCAA and NBA sources said the move is to make coaching and officiating more uniform and improve the fundamental development of young players. The move, sources said, is also intended to drive a wedge between young players and shoe and apparel companies, which seek to exploit these kids.

But, Sonny Vaccaro, who has worked in grass roots youth basketball marketing for the nation's largest shoe makers, said it's an attempt by the NBA and NCAA to get in on the action of youth sports. Youth basketball alone is a multi-billion dollar industry in North America, according to sporting goods manufacturers associations.

Locally, former Indiana University star Greg Graham is jumping into the fray. Graham, who played five seasons in the NBA, is hosting the College Exposure Showcase March 23 at The Fieldhouse in Fishers. Graham is luring players-grades eight through 12-with the promise that 1,000 colleges have been invited to attend the Showcase.

Are services like Graham's a good service for young players and colleges, or is this an example of the exploitation of young people?
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