What is the Value in Star Rankings?

It’s natural to see the importance and value in rankings and reviews, made by trusted sources.

It’s something that everyone does in many aspects of life. So, what is the value of star rankings? For sports, ratings from sites like MaxPreps or Rivals seem to matter. These ratings should not be treated as a final defining evaluation. At the end of the day, people view things differently, and so only the individual will know what their opinion may be. 

Star rankings in sports

This heavily applies to the sports world and the star-ranking system that has become such a major influence over recruiting. Star rankings impact how the world views up and coming athletes. Scouts and coaches take into account what the latest “Top 100 Quarterbacks in the Class of 2023” are when they’re looking to fill a QB spot on their roster. Of course, they are going to want to find those top-tier players. Many of those lists serve as fantastic starting points to find top-tier talent. But the thing is, for those top-tier players are not only the ones that have been given 4- and 5-star rankings. They can be found amongst the 1-star and unranked athletes as well.

We could go through a list of athletes that have been “missed” by scouts and analysts who spend a lot of time putting together these rankings. This list would be very long. We’d start with some of the biggest names like Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, and Demarcus Lawrence. But instead of listing names to try and prove that star-rankings don’t matter as much as some may think they do, let’s look at it from a different angle. 

When scouts and analysts are evaluating players to form their lists and rankings, they’re doing a very good job. They are visiting all the games they can, comparing game stats and game results, seeing who is winning and who is losing. But they’re doing it based on what they can see on paper and events that they can attend.

Star Rankings in Recruiting 

In reality, they simply cannot make it to every game and scrimmage that occurs across the nation. There are going to be players that don’t get equivalent attention and analyzation. Understandably, seeing as their time is limited, the scouts and analysts tend to primarily focus on the big leagues in the big sport hub locations. 

Players like Rodgers, growing up in Chico, California has a much higher possibility of being undervalued due to their location and league they play in. But as is clearly evident, these players can contain the skills and abilities to make it to the collegiate level, the professional level, even an MVP-caliber level. Athletes gain motivation for going unranked and want to prove all the doubters wrong.

There are athletes all over the place, for every sport, that go unnoticed because they may not have been fortunate enough to be at the right place, in the right game, at the right position. These athletes do not necessarily lack ability, nor motivation, nor dedication. They lack opportunity and fortunate timing. 

Athletes like Rodgers and Wentz lacked opportunity prior to getting to the big leagues. After getting to the big stage, and having the chance to show their skills, people took notice. Wentz went from unranked in high school to the 2nd pick in the draft. He eventually won a Super Bowl ring. Rodgers waited even longer before he truly got his chance to shine. After three years, Rodgers got his starting opportunity. Both Rodgers and Wentz show that a ranking does not determine a player’s full ability and potential.

Advice for Coaches

The same goes for the coaches. Make sure to properly evaluate athletes for their true skills and talents, and how they’ll fit with your program. The value in star rankings should not persuade a coach’s decision. It’s ultimately an unknown as to how things will pan out. Use the right tools and platforms to see the most athletes out there and perform proper evaluations. It is important for coaches to trust their own eyes when filling their next roster spot.

Advice for Athletes

Athletes should not get discouraged if they are not highly ranked. Coaches should not be reliant solely on star-ranking to determine who they approach and recruit. There are players that are currently unranked that can be impactful on your program and will make a difference. 

On the other hand, the highly ranked athletes still need to put in the work. They should continue to hone their skills and put in the hours with the weights as well as with the books. Receiving a 5-star ranking is not a guarantee to make it to the professional level, as those unranked players will be working with a chip on their shoulders. 

For athletes of all ages, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep at it with the work on the gridiron, in the weight room, and the classroom. There is value in star rankings, but they aren’t everything. So, no matter what the ranking is or what place one is on the various annual lists, that does NOT determine how the results will be at the end of the day. 

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