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USA Today tests more coverage of high school football

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Jeremy Hobson: High school football season has begun, and USA Today is out with a showcase of football star teams and athletes. But is media attention a good thing for young
football players?

Here’s Marketplace’s Shereen Marisol Meraji.

Shereen Marisol Meraji: Harry Welch knows a little something about coaching high school football.

Harry Welch: I didn’t start until 1965.

His team, the Santa Margarita Eagles, were division one state champions in California last year. And, they just had a preseason game in Arizona that ESPN televised. The Eagles won, 27 to 14.

Welch: Fans were wild and positively crazy.

Welch is pretty crazy about all this media attention, he says its helped his school raise money that goes to both academics and athletics. USA Today has also picked up on the high school football craze and is kicking this season off with a magazine that profiles star high school teams and athletes across the country.

Richard Lapchick is the director of diversity and ethics in sport at the University of Central Florida. He says national media attention can be positive.

Richard Lapchick: I think it gives people who otherwise might not have the opportunity to go to college without an athletic scholarship, the chance that their kids will be seen.

But he worries that the friday night spotlight on athletics over academics may exploit high school athletes by ignoring what they really need: a high school diploma and a college degree.

I’m Shereen Marisol Meraji for Marketplace.

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