adidas tennis If The Shoe Fits
Fun, Games And More At Nike, Adidas Summer Schools’
August 16, 1998By DAVID TEEL and DAVE FAIRBANK Daily Press
North Carolina and Kentucky, they ain’t. Fairleigh Dickinson University, a northern New Jersey liberal arts school of fewer than 2,000 students, has never won an NCAA Tournament game. Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, a baffling downtown conglomerate, doesn’t even play Division I basketball.
But during the first full week of July, these obscure campuses become college basketball Meccas.
Nike’s All American camp at IUPUI and adidas’ ABCD camp at Fairleigh Dickinson are showcases of elite high school talent, attracting more than 400 players combined.
There’s no question we’re in competition with Nike to get the best players at our camp,” said Paul Red” Jenkins, a legend in Virginia high school basketball coaching circles who works at Paul VI High in Fairfax and is affiliated with adidas.
We’ve got 240 kids here and they have an opportunity to play in front of 400 college coaches,” he said. Nike has 200 and some kids there. It’s all about providing opportunities. How can that be a bad thing?”
Nike’s camp began in 1983, adidas’ in 1994. Campers must provide their own transportation. Both events started modestly, only to evolve into weeklong ordeals that can make or break a young man’s career.
You have to produce,” Hampton High’s Johnnie Story says during Nike’s camp. If you slack off, somebody will make you look bad.”
THERE IS NO misinterpreting Rule 30.16 (d) on Page 404 of the NCAA Division I Manual: A prospective student athlete who attends an NCAA certified event shall not retain any athletics equipment provided for his or her use at the event other than an event T shirt.”
OK, then why are dozens of players from Nike’s annual summer basketball camp walking away with shoes, sandals and multiple uniforms?
It’s tough to police,” says camp director George Raveling, a former college coach. When a kid says his stuff was stolen, what are you going to do?”
Not that Nike officials are losing sleep over the pilfered merchandise. Quite the contrary.
This weeklong event is about teaching life skills, basketball and brand loyalty, not necessarily in that order. Even the cops lecturing the more than 200 campers on the dangers of drug abuse have swooshes on their shirts.
Nike’s logo is plastered not just on shoes and uniforms, but also on socks, shower sandals, basketballs, backboards and posters. It is everywhere.
As players walk down the steps leading to the three courts at the National Institute for Fitness and Sport, they encounter a larger than life banner of Michael Jordan. Hanging from the rafters inside the gym are similar tributes to other Nike pitchmen: Tim Duncan, Eddie Jones, Penny Hardaway, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire, whose young brother is competing at camp. A display rack showcases the latest in Nike footwear and apparel.
Two hours before college coaches are permitted to descend upon the camp to evaluate the talent, a Division I head coach sits in a downtown Indianapolis bagel shop bemoaning his moral predicament. The coach, whose program receives free Nike gear, appreciates the company’s support and understands its marketing needs.
But he hates the heavy handedness of it all. He hates the arrogance he believes these camps breed in young athletes, an arrogance that is often irreversible.
I’m not Jesus Christ reincarnate,” the coach says. I can’t take the spots off a leopard. . I’m affronted to be here.”
But he’s here. Just like hundreds of his colleagues, from Dartmouth to Duke, Marist to Michigan, Niagara to North Carolina, their prey listed alphabetically and in numerical order in the camp handbook.
Raveling, a former head coach at Washington State, Iowa and Southern California, says egos are his biggest headache.
Parents, coaches and players,” he says. It just wears you down. Many times you can see why the kids have a problem when you talk to their parents.”
But in three years of directing the camp, Raveling believes he’s made significant progress. Morning games have been replaced by drills. Afternoon and evening games, coached by Nike affiliated summer and high school coaches, are divided into segments that require specific offensive and defensive sets. This, Raveling says, gives college coaches a more complete picture of a prospect.
NCAA rules prohibit college coaches from direct contact with prospects during July, but that has never interfered with what coaches call bumps.” Coaches just happen to bump into the player they crave, making the only civil response a handshake, wink and hello.
But give Nike credit for structure. Players are sequestered at a hotel off limits to coaches. Media interviews are limited to the lunch break. One section of bleachers is reserved for parents, allowing them to avoid coaches, if they so desire.