I watched that show - Millionaire Matchmaker - the other night on Bravo. I found it to be hilarious, repulsive and embarrassing - all at once - so, of course I watched.
It was the episode when the hapless Julien alienated every young lady he met - including the Matchmaker, her VP of Matching, and his "date" Jacqueline.
I was thinking about it this morning - To qualify as a Millionaire you have to be "checked out" - they don't ask for financials or "proof" of worth - but you have to have some obvious holdings - ie real estate (then again, isn't every homeowner in California a millionaire?). And then, young ladies, personally picked for their compatibility, are introduced as possible dates. There are a lot of rules regarding contact, activities and so on...
It reminded me a lot of College Recruiting -
In the past - it might have been the schools who were the Millionaires - tons to offer - could pick and choose their favorites - and while that is still true to some extent - the kids, the student athletes, have really shifted into the role of Millionaire - sure they still have to get an official "offer" (well, most of the time they do) from their school of choice - but when you look at the number of scholarships a top prospect gets these days - it's pretty easy to determine who is doing the choosing.
The prospective recruits are ranked and labeled with "stars" - and, generally, the more stars you have, the more "elite" schools that will be interested in you.
Every year there is some hotshot recruit - who has been tearing up the field since his Pop Warner days - and has team representatives falling over each other trying to get a look at him. There are zillions of YouTube clips evidencing their talents. The kids are bombarded with sports media attention, all star games, and televised press conferences. It's impossible to ignore the attention, and power that is bestowed upon these teenagers - they, and to some extent their parents, coaches and "recruiting advisors" become celebrities. Every statement, action, inaction, clothing choice and/or dietary habit is reported, analyzed and then regurgitated to the pack of ravenous fanatics. Any little movement they make is interpreted and can set message boards afire with speculation. These kids, and the choices they make, can affect an enormous pool of people and their mental well being.
Some kids go for the legacy - "I want a team, just like the team, that recruited Dear Old Dad". There are the "I just want to be able to say that I played at Alabama" kids, they might walk on or take a scholarship knowing that they might not see a lot of playing time.
The trend today, though, seems to be playing time, which directly correlates with "getting to the next level." Kids want to know that the school they choose will do all it can to promote and prepare them for playing professional football. A big factor in recruiting is being able to promise national exposure. Illinois is a team that has taken full advantage of this - They were in the position to make a lot of promises - come play here and you'll not only get to play, but you'll be playing in the Big Ten on National Television. We'll build the team around you and I will be your biggest cheerleader.
There are still kids, of course, who just want to be college football players - and 90% will never play on Sunday (not even in the Big East) - they love football and want to get an education. To me, regardless of talent and/or expectation - every kid who sends over a Letter of Intent tomorrow should be just giddy with the prospect of playing college football - on the other hand, there are a lot of college coaches who will not sleep well tonight worrying about the phone line to the fax machine and whether or not there are any last minute changes of heart.
As far as we fans go - Sports fans are competitive people - we want our favorite team's roster to be filled by the best possible players - and there is also the whole ranking of recruits and recruiting classes which is just one more thing to compare and contrast. There's no doubt that when a tippy top kid commits to your school that it's a rush - it's a promise for the future, even though you have no idea of what this kid can really do or how things will work out.
A labeled "Millionaire" is not always going to pan out to be a long term companion - or even a good date - just as a five star prospect won't always develop into a playmaker - as in life, it's generally the 3 star kids who are the best.