February’s National Signing Day still has its own special appeal

There’s something for everybody on National Signing Day (Traditional).

Really. For those into high school and/or college football, it’s like a holiday, except everybody 12th grade and under does GO to school, and to class. And gets homework.

It’s huge for fax machines. Otherwise a space taker for 364 days, the fax still gets a few adoring glances on NSD. There are still some technologically challenged coaches (more than a few of them, actually) who help their players maneuver through the actual pages of scholarship documents, but can’t for the sake of seconds at supper figure out how to scan and e-mail them. No shame in that; the fax stands ready, like the push lawnmower.

NSD (Traditional) is not as big for team caps as it was. NSD (Early) has dominated the team cap announcement, when A-List Prospect has a collection of hats with school logos of his final choices, and toys with everyone in the room and elsewhere before pulling on the one he’s gonna make part of his new wardrobe. Most of the high-profile signees do their deals in December (NSD Early).

But that doesn’t dim Traditional for unabashed exhilaration.

Traditional is every bit as solid as ever in that department. EVERYBODY is happy. Family gathers, often dressed to the nines. High school coaches are stoked. They, teachers, and administrators are proud to see Prospect is stepping on a path to higher education. They’ve all been through college and they know what a life-changer it is. Meanwhile, college coaches are happy their months of recruiting are rewarded, they are excited about Prospect getting on campus and getting in the offseason program, and boosters cannot help but picture EVERY signee stepping quickly into the starting lineup and stacking up Ws.

(With the NIL money now flowing around the high-rent campuses like a flooded Red River, Prospect also will soon, if not immediately, need to fill out his W9 and consider a CPA. It is, after all, bidness.)

Traditional also is relief. Those who didn’t get to do NSD (Early) have had several weeks to find their path forward. Some already knew it, some took it down to the wire. Some discovered the fit wasn’t there at the Snazzy Conference level and when reality settled in, just like when Favorite Girlfriend kicked Prospect to the curb, well, there were other really nice girls around and one had PO-tential. All the good food ain’t served at five-star, pricey restaurants, either. So, Traditional is also satisfaction.

It’s accomplishment. Scholarships of ANY kind are not birthrights. They’re earned, with years of commitment, toughness, resilience, and yes, God-given talent. From the youth league coach to the junior high teacher to the high school counselor, and for Prospect’s people sitting around the dinner table, this was a day of celebration, and rightfully so. They helped make it happen.

It’s transition. High school days are not done, but this is the first big step away from everything Prospect has known for 17 or so years. Might be exciting, but at some point it’s probably daunting. That support base almost always shrinks once you’re out of sight. Gotta make better choices than ever before, because the people who know you best won’t be close by as sounding boards.

But all that uncertainty is outweighed by the assurance that NSD (Traditional, or Early) provides. And that feels Tony the Tiger GRRREAT!

Last thing. BTW, this year NSD (Traditional) was extra wonderful, with it being Women in Sport Day, and Groundhog Day. Six more weeks of volleyball?