A reader e-mailed to complain about what he contrused as politics in the selection of the Sun-Times All-Chicago Area football team.
"It is obvious that the best players are not recognized for their hard work and statistics," he said.
"Jonathan Ridgner of Morgan Park, in my opinion, should have been on this prestigious list of players. You cannot let players down. You know how important it is for students to be recognized for their hard work.
"The numbers speak for themselves: 62 tackles, 18 assists, 6 sacks. Please don't discourage this young student. He must be recognized."
In response, and with all due respect, Ridgner was recognized. He was named to the Sun-Times All-Public League team. No other Chicago newspaper selects one.
Ridgner was considered for the All-Area team but it was judged that there were at least three linebackers--Mount Carmel's Steve Filer, Joliet Catholic's Nick Clancy and Downers Grove South's Jared Culver--who gave better performances during the 2007 season.
The selection of all-state and all-area teams has evolved into a political football over the years. College recruiters don't take them as seriously as parents and athletes do.
For the Sun-Times, and the Daily News before it, the all-area team is a way of recognizing high school youngsters for their achievement during the past season. Selections are based on performance, not college recruiting.
Statistics play a role, of course, but you don't pick a team based on who passed for the most yards, who rushed for the most yards, who scored the most touchdowns, who made the most tackles, who made the most interceptions and who is committed to the University of Illinois or to Notre Dame.
For example, Ridgner was credited with 62 solo tackles and 18 assists. But many linebackers were credited with more than 100 tackles. And most didn't receive as much recognition as Ridgner.
I still recall parents who have ranted: "You didn't pick my son for the All-Area team. You have cost him a college scholarship."
Horse feathers. College coaches don't offer scholarships on the basis of whether a player is named to an all-area team or now. Some juniors already have been offered scholarships. Colleges based their recruiting on size and speed and how they project an athlete in two of three years, not his press clippings.
And how about the 5-8, 175-pound defensive lineman who was named the MVP of his conference and was named to the Sun-Times All-Area team? What college offered him a scholarship?
The Sun-Times team is the most objective of all. It selects worthy underclassmen (some conferences pick only seniors), doesn't cater to any university programs, doesn't dismiss players who won't qualify academically for a Division I scholarship and doesn't bastardize its selections to fit in players who never or rarely played a position.
Still, picking a 25-man squad with one quarterback (do you know how many conferences annually single out a quarterback as its No. 1 player?) and two running backs and three linebackers and four defensive backs isn't easy. Criticism comes with the territory. We've learned to live with it.