Tuesday, July 15, 2008

School spirit

I've been thinking back again to the Development Academy conflicting with high school soccer instead of the entrenched youth club system. The sad part about that is - school soccer is where the sport is truly egalitarian. Unlike club soccer, there are no expensive fees that mean a player's parents are either shelling out the dough, or a player is a scholarship ringer on the team.

School soccer also binds kids to a cause - they're representing not only their soccer team, but the place where they study and learn, their part of the city where they live, and even an entire town at times. Sure, some players will get that same feeling playing on a college team one day, but more and more quality players leave the college ranks early these days.

High school rivalries can be intense. I'll never forget Long Beach reporter Matt Zimmerman's lead for a Millikan/Wilson game back in late 2006.

Just 11 minutes in, the home team had a two-goal lead. Midway through the second half, the visitors had tied it on two goals from the same player, who then ran over to the home team's bench pointing and taunting. And was of course promptly ejected, leaving his team a man down. Welcome to another edition of the best, most intense boys soccer rivalry in the area, the Moore League tilt between Wilson and Millikan.

Actually, perhaps the best look at what high school soccer can mean to participating players can't be summed up in mere words. Here's a glimpse at Wilson's recent season.


Anonymous said...

The same writer who posted the blog that you linked to wrote a more detailed blog about what the problem between high school and the academy really is.


A.Ruiz said...

Egalitarian? Sure it is, compare your average inner city school and then a suburban's schools facilities.

A.C. said...

That's why soccer as a game is such a great equalizer. It doesn't matter how fancy the fields elsewhere are if the inner-city kids can really play the game.

RHYbread said...

Definitely agree with A.C. I played soccer at a private school in Pasadena, average family income north of 100k, facilities more than decent and we got our asses handed to us by a number of inner-city teams. In some parts because of their better technique, other parts because of our horrible coaching, and mostly because the majority of our players just didn't give two shits about the game.

Matthew Zimmerman said...

Andrea. I blush. And your blog remains required reading for me.

Lot of crazy memories from those old high school games, especially Wilson-Millikan . . . . lot of layers to that particular rivalry, but it is hardly unique.

Anyway, the high school game, as it pertains to the national team, is as irrelevant as the college game. But like the college game, high school provides a place for young people to play soccer, and gain an education at the same time.

Not every player is destined for the pros, anyway.

The thing is, this "demise of high school soccer" has been happening for years. In most prep team sports, the recruiting goes largely through the club/travel coach. Football is the only sport that has the athletes' full commitment.

The best players often say that club gets you your shot at college, while high school is for fun. There are some teams that are the exception to this, but in other sports players are choosing to emphasize club (where the "scouts" show up).

I hope the high school game survives, even as the best players continue their exodus.

papa bear said...

meh. All of the best academies and clubs have programs for fee waivers. The Fire academy is free to anyone who can't pay. There are at least 6 kids who were going to go back to their parent's respective countries and train there (and probably become the next Francisco Torres with split allegiances) who are now in the US system because of it.
That doesn't happen in high school. The high school game is a waste of time. Most school don't pay it any attention and give it next to no support. Beside that, by the time a kid is high school aged he should have been identified and brought into a clubs youth system if he was any good.

The destruction of high school and NCAA soccer are a dream scenario for me since only then will the sport take off in quality. (The NBA is about to learn that the NCAA is a dead horse with more players taking the European option rather than the forced labor of 1 year in NCAA option)

drew_brown said...


What Zimmerman says is true. It's not just soccer. In basketball it's AAU Teams and Elite Camps that get kids the scholarships. In hockey it's the Junior teams. In volleyball and baseball it's the Elite teams.

Even in football, it's about whose camp do you go to at the right age to get enough attention to have them show up at your high school games.

Carlos said...

Good Job!: )