Lee Davis: U.S. Soccer Federation Elite Development: A Bad Idea Takes Hold

Sunday, March 4, 2012 - by Attorney Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Sometimes a rule or organizational change in sport captures my attention.  Such is the case with the United States Soccer Federation’s new direction in elite development. The Federation has adopted a new policy of year-round development that requires boys to drop high school participation in many areas across the country. As reported in the NYT, “the shift by the federation applies to its top boys teams around the country, requiring players on those teams — known as Development Academy teams — to participate in a nearly year-round season and, by extension, forcing them and their soccer moms and dads to decide whether they should play for their club or play for their school.”

Consider this, promising middle school soccer players–kids 11 and 12 years old–will have to decide with their families whether to chase the Olympic dream or to play for their local school.

 If they choose to play with Development Academy, they forgo their local school program and community.  If they choose to play high school soccer, they lose any chance to be recruited to the highest echelons of the sport.  This policy change is a bad idea.

The decision points out what is fundamentally wrong with current trends in high school sports.  There are about 75 national level development teams with nearly 3,000 kids making up the talent pool that the national team draws from.  With the change, these 3000 kids are giving up an experience in local high school sports for a shot at the national team.  A team that is comprised of how many kids?  Not 3,000–and not 300 for that matter.  So these kids sacrifice their youth for the hope–realistic or not–that they may be one of the few chosen.  Perhaps 50 out of 3000 will get to the top level for a try-out, and from that pool a handful will actually play for the US National team.  The rest are on a path of controlled failure as they reach dead-ends that will leave them without a team, a high school, or a connection to a community. The Federation’s rationale is that the few that do make the team will be able to compete at the highest level of the sport.  But at a heavy price.

As most high school coaches recognize, sport has its most positive impact on the local level.  In his article, Sam Borden interviewed Dan Woog, the boys soccer coach at Staples High School in Westport, Conn.  Coach Woog recalled the night his team won a league championship several years ago, and a group of players showed up at a diner afterward with their championship medals around their necks.

Suddenly, the other customers in the diner — a majority of them Westport residents — stood up and spontaneously gave the players a standing ovation. The players beamed.

“They’re going to remember that the rest of their lives,” Woog said. “They felt like kings. That’s not going to happen in the academy.”

Anyone who follows top level soccer knows that Division I college coaches and Olympic Development talent scouts have long ago stopped looking first at high school teams as the source for future players and have focused instead on Development Academy teams.  Perhaps the Federation’s policy change merely reflects that reality.  But the Federation’s sin lies in the notion that an 11-year-old boy will have to make such a choice:  school or country.

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)


Two Home UTC Basketball Games To Be Aired On ESPNU

Lee Men Fall To Spring Hill College In Overtime

Western Carolina Earns 3-0 Shut Out Over UTC


The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team will play in front of a nationally televised audience twice inside McKenzie Arena this season with both airing on ESPNU, the Southern Conference league ... (click for more)

Spring Hill College tallied a goal 40 seconds into overtime to hand the Lee University men’s soccer team a 1-0 defeat Sunday afternoon in a Gulf South Conference contest. The Flames have dropped ... (click for more)

The Chattanooga Mocs fell 3-0 Sunday afternoon at Western Carolina in Southern Conference women’s soccer action at the Catamount Athletic Complex. “Not our best performance,” Mocs head coach ... (click for more)



Sports

Two Home UTC Basketball Games To Be Aired On ESPNU

The Chattanooga Mocs men’s basketball team will play in front of a nationally televised audience twice inside McKenzie Arena this season with both airing on ESPNU, the Southern Conference league office announced Monday morning. Chattanooga’s first bout on ESPNU will come in the SoCon opener against rival ETSU on December 30 (originally 12/29) at 7PM ET. The second is slated ... (click for more)

Lee Men Fall To Spring Hill College In Overtime

Spring Hill College tallied a goal 40 seconds into overtime to hand the Lee University men’s soccer team a 1-0 defeat Sunday afternoon in a Gulf South Conference contest. The Flames have dropped two straight matches and have lost their last three GSC battles to fall to 8-4 and 4-3 within the conference. The Badgers (8-5, 4-4 GSC) tallied the winning goal off Matthew Moreno’s ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Hamilton County Has 4 More Virus Deaths And 63 New Cases; Number Of ICU Patients Continues To Drop; Tennessee Has 7 More Deaths

The Hamilton County Health Department reported four more coronavirus deaths on Monday and 63 new positive cases, down from 109 on Friday. The total number of cases in the county now stands at 63,358. The death total is at 642. It is reported the deaths were all men; three white and one race not determined; two age 51-60 and two age 61-70. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations ... (click for more)

Daisy Madison To Retire As City's Chief Financial Officer After Nearly 20 Years

Daisy Madison, the city’s longtime chief financial officer, will conclude her distinguished career at City Hall this year as she begins her transition into retirement, she told senior staff Monday. Ms. Madison was hired as deputy chief finance officer in 1992 by former mayor Gene Roberts. She served with distinction under a succession of mayors, including Jon Kinsey, Bob Corker, ... (click for more)

Opinion

Tennessee Fans Hit A New Low - And Response (2)

Tennessee Vols fans hit a new low at the end of the UTK vs Ole Miss last evening. Maybe Lane Kiffin did us wrong when he left Knoxville for his dream team back in 2009, however, the crass and repulsive behavior of a large number of Tennessee fans didn’t reflect on Kiffin, it reflected on the great state of Tennessee. Has society really reduced itself to believing that reducing ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Beware Of The Cobra

Over the weekend my “Morning Readings” included a lesson that economists teach called the Cobra Effect. Jon Miltimore is the Managing Editor of the Foundation for Economic Education in Atlanta and his ‘FEE.org’ is a highly respected conservative libertarian economic think tank. In his story you are about to read, he claims economists around the world speak often on The Cobra Effect. ... (click for more)