Your Letters & Pictures
Paul Gardner's Essay from Mike
How you could include such an essay in your newsletter is beyond me. Paul makes a few assertions that are totally illogical and completely flawed.
First, the top talent (potential "superstars") in this country do not attend college anymore. They are drafted by the MLS as teens or head directly to Europe. And the better players (a step below elite) tend to attend college for just a year or two before turning pro.
Second, it is not the presence of NCAA soccer that stymies professional growth but rather the abscence of a professional youth system. That would be like blaming high school soccer if we had no elite clubs like Irvine Strikers or the Nomads. It's just flawed logic.
Third, having NCAA soccer gives more players more options. How Paul can see this as a negative, I do not understand. A pro youth system can easily crush the spirits of youngsters (like in Europe). Also, withour NCAA soccer, it will be very hard for late-bloomers to emerge, and those kids may have put all their eggs in the professional soccer basket, so they are left with no free education. We value an education in this country. Most good soccer players will not turn pro, and giving them an education to fall back on is of great value. I am not sure how giving more soccer players more options is a bad thing.
Fourth, Paul does not recoginze a trend in NCAA soccer in terms of attendance which is very much on the rise. Attendance records of all types are being broken by schools like UCSB and UVA. In fact, more people attended UCSB's Elite 8 match (over 8,000) than attended MLS playoff matches happening at around the same time. Have a read of this College Soccer News article about attendence growth and marketing strategies in the NCAA:
The fact is that NCAA soccer is very helpful to soccer in the USA. Its purpose is not to produce soccer superstars, and potential soccer superstars no longer go the NCAA route anyway, so Paul's argument is extremely flawed. One can also not blame NCAA soccer for the absence of a pro youth system. NCAA soccer is good for the USA and Paul's criticism of it is ignornat and misguided.
You adding the essay to your newsletter makes me think that you agree with Paul. If so, you are wrong as you were with your opinion on slide tack.
Posted on 24 Jan 2007 by coachgianni