What is wrong with College Soccer?

OK so EWTT, originally posted this article At first I was going to write a comment, but it was getting so long I figured I would spare everyone and just link to it. This might of sorta of go everywhich way so bare with me.

Part of the problem is that we use the college system as a feeder to our pro ranks. This works for the NBA and NHL because in those four years it allows players to not only mature as players, but also grow into their bodies, although lately that hasn’t been as much the case for the NBA.

The problem lies in that people have this romantic association with amateur college players giving it all on the field, and then going to get their education. I got no problem with that, but the fact of the matter is the landscape has changed, and football and baseball have become lower level professional leagues, but the NCAA inists on keeping up appearances even though the whole system is rife with corruption, and consistent rule breaking. It seems every year again mainly through basketball and football you hear another slew of stories of agents doing this, or players taking that, or boosters doing this. They need to realize that just because they are going to college doesn’t meant they shouldn’t be compensated for what they are doing.

I think of those players as indentured servants in a way. The schools and NCAA, and the networks make billions while the players are punished for taking any money even though many come from pretty poor backgrounds. Hell even the coaches are inking multi-million dollar contracts.

Now why all this ranting and raving when the article was about college soccer, because I believe it points to a larger picture of player development in this country, and how it is done wrong. In the article the guy states;

“At the same time, however, one of my biggest concerns with dismissing college soccer in favor of increased professionalization is the social implications of creating a youth system that is focused on finding a few great soccer talents at the human cost of thousands of others. If we continue pushing for a system that forces people to specialize at earlier and earlier ages, both in terms of sports and in terms of education, we will likely have more success identifying 18 players for a World Cup team sheet while simultaneously creating a generation of individuals who devoted their adolescence to soccer at the expense of the many other potential contributions to their communities. The things we think we want to do at 15 are often very different from what we think we want to do when we are 22.”

While I agree to a point the fact of the matter is I bet the majority of 15 year olds who have the opportunity to go pro would take it. The thing is college isn’t for everyone, and the current system we have now, we get kids going to school who really have no interest in being there.

But there are other options, for example I had a friend who was drafted out of high school by the Boston Red Sox as a left handed pitcher. He didn’t make it due to his shoulder giving out, but due to the contract agreement signed on the initial contract he is now going to school on the Red Sox’s dime, and also got a $250,000 signing bonus back in 2003 when he was drafted. That is a pretty sweet deal, and it leaves him with an option if baseball doesn’t work out.

I could go on and on, and really this isn’t the best blog piece I have ever written but I got other things to do. My point is people think that going to college for free is this sweet deal that every kid will want, and will take advantage of, but why force it on them if they want to go the professional athletic rout?

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  1. Excellent comments about the hypocrisy of college athletics, Rico. One top SEC football coach, LSU’s Les Miles, recently argued the NCAA should drop the charade and agree on a stipend to pay college athletes, thereby helping avoid the temptation of illegal approaches and payments from agents.

    In terms of developing players, I think anybody who was serious about pursuing a professional career would look at going the academy route versus U.S. college. I believe the New York TImes Magazine piece that highlighted Ajax mentioned criticism of the U.S. college system as less than adequate in terms of preparing players for club and international play because of the substandard level of play at that age compared to other options (reserve team football or clubs in lower level leagues such as Scandanavia, the Balkans, etc.).

  2. I also don’t think that schools should pay for players, because they would probably go bankrupt doing that, rather the money should maybe be a performance based on how your team does, whether they go the performance based route, or evenly pay the team across the board. It should come out of things like March madness profits, and all the bowl games etc.

  3. IMO, anyone who thinks the college system is the best path for a player pursuing a career in soccer or that the NCAA system is the best option for the overall success of the soccer community can go pray with George W Bush.

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