Thursday, July 3, 2008

High School lament

The death of high school soccer? Perhaps, but that may not be a bad thing.
Soccer is different from other American sports. No one in American football has to worry about falling behind the curve because other countries are taking nine-year-olds into professional development in that sport. Also the maturity level needed is very different. As a contact sport, the NFL doesn't really have teen phenoms. Who wants to clobber a Messi-type of talent with a full-body tackle when his bones are still forming?
On the other hand, in the U.S. does a Messi-style soccer talent progress faster get to where he wants to go if he plays high school soccer? Or is he better off (barring traveling to a different country) taking the best competitive environment his country does offer?


just another one of you said...

Andrea, I think the system basketball employs is somewhat similar with their AAU leagues/tournaments. There's no doubt that is has somewhat undermined the high school level but it definitely hasn't killed it.

RHYbread said...

High school sports are part of the high school experience; academics, teen angst, etc.

The DA focuses on developing soccer players, not the job of a high school team which provides students the opportunity to compete among their peers. HS teams aren't losing more than bragging rights if they're no longer stocked with the best players. Plenty more kids want to play.

I think many of the people viewing this as the death of high school soccer see this in terms of sports like HS basketball and HS football which do play a large part in recruiting and career development.

RHYbread said...

Double comment...

What is sorta sad about this is that these players skipping HS soccer are really missing the chance to form some special bonds and memories with their friends.

The friends I made and the good times I had in HS soccer and X-country are something I'll never forget.

Anonymous said...

im sure the friends and memories you would make playing football abroad as a teen would suffice.

d.s. said...

Not linking soccer development to high school soccer, instead of relying on the club model was mistake #1, one that USSF did not attempt to fix over the years. High school sports is the gateway to professional sports (esp. Basketball and PointyFootball) for numerous American athletes, especially ones from poor families. This gateway never existed for soccer, and is now less likely to develop.

Don't get me wrong, the development academy is a fantastic idea, perhaps Gulati's best contribution to date (I am sure credit belongs to others at USSF as well). However, unless the academy hands out scholarship money to the tune of $32M per year (as I described here), I think the academy system will start to push poorer players away.

Yes, there are numerous problems with high-school soccer (really short seasons, coach works with players for a very small fraction of the academic year, etc.), but these are problems that could be fixed.

papa bear said...

AFAIK every MLS academy (who are part of the USSF dev academy) has a program for kids who can't afford it that makes it FREE for them.
Also, many of the clubs near big cities have the same kinda deals (scholarships etc)
High School offers NOTHING to players. In fact, for a LONG time none of the good players have been playing in high school as it is. There was an article on NEd Grabavoy from a couple days ago that marvelled that he actually played in High School rathing than with Chicago Magic. Lamenting the loss of HS soccer is foolish as it has been out of the TRUE development loop for a LONG time already.

they don't lose any of the socializing opportunities playing club soccer. They make new friends from other school districts which widens their network which anyone in business will tell you is always a good thing.

Bottom line: HS soccer isn't going to die. However, if it did, I would be HAPPY AS HELL. Same goes for NCAA. Both of them are there to serve the school only not the student athlete.
Now MLS needs to cut the rule that players cease being club property once they go to college and let teams sign as many players from there as they want without exposing them to other teams.