See At All Costs

Life Inside AAU Basketball

If you work with or care about kids — and anyone who would say “no” to the latter probably isn’t a reader of this blog — check out the documentary At All Costs – Life Inside AAU basketball.  While the film delves deeply into an insider’s view of the world of high stakes youth basketball, one need not be a basketball fan to become captivated by the story it tells.

As far as basketball is concerned, this is about what happens to the best of the best. These kids and their parents harbor dreams of playing big time college ball and then moving on to the pros. Competitive AAU basketball has become a year-round enterprise, with particular emphasis on the summer months. It has essentially relegated traditional high school ball to superfluous status.

The film portrays all sides of the topic it covers. There are well-meaning adults who care deeply about these kids — e.g., The Compton Magic.  There are the stereotypical parasites who use these kids for their own financial gain. There are the kids themselves (and their parents) who sometimes struggle to distinguish between the two motivations.

While “Amateur” may be the first word in AAU, the viewer quickly sees that there is a great deal of money involved in this whole scene. It ain’t cheap to jet around the country week after week to compete in just the right the tournaments, the ones that draw the biggest name college coaches. These costs tend to be met by the major sneaker companies — Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, etc. — who insist on a level of brand loyalty that brings to mind gang affiliation.

As an educator who continues to hold up the banner of the 3-sport athlete, my assumptions were challenged. That’s what a good documentary is supposed to do.  See At All Costs. As a teaser, here’s the trailer:

Onward,  Malcolm Gauld