“Our dysfunctional developmental system emphasizes club soccer and the chase for college scholarships over true longer-term professional development. This is the only country in the world that has the pyramid upside down. You pay for having your kid play soccer because your goal is to get a college scholarship, which is the complete opposite in the rest of the world.”
My personal view is that sports and academics don’t fit well together, especially for soccer given that it’s a truly international sport. College soccer is NOT a good place for a 18 or 19 year old to become a world-class player. Education is good in principle, of course, but it has nothing to do with honing the young player’s soccer craft to an elite level.
So boys that have the potential to become professional players are at a fork in the road – they have to chose the academic route or the professional soccer route, like in the rest of the world. You can’t do both and expect to reach international standards. As simple as that.
To be clear, getting a college scholarship and the academic credentials that goes with that is a fine goal, of course, but it also means that this top youth player almost certainly won’t be able to fulfill their potential as a soccer player.
And that is a reasonable trade off, of course, especially since only a small percentage of top youth players that pursue professional soccer careers end up making enough money to support themselves during their lifetime.
For girls it’s different in my view. The college route is good for even elite girls because it gives them a better starting point after their soccer careers are over. Unfortunately, women’s professional soccer will almost certainly never be able to generate enough financial return for the players because there isn’t enough money in women’s soccer. And that’s a delicate topic for a future post…