Thanks for your input, Jeff.
I’m very familiar with the studies and books you mentioned, but the one thing all of that research leaves out are the PERSONALITIES behind those doing the work.
In the U.S., our pay-for-play system actually discriminates against the personalities who are most likely to become world class athletes. If you analyze soccer anywhere in Europe or South America, the best soccer players are those who were economically disadvantaged and/or had a troubled upbringing. Of course there are exceptions, but having a chip on your shoulder with only one outlet (soccer) makes it a lot easier to become a pro than growing up in a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with plenty of food, toys, friends and close family constantly telling you how awesome you are, when you’ve done little more than stuff you face and s#*^ in the toilet.
In this country, we don’t have the best-of-the-best athletes playing pro soccer – we have the best-of-those-that-can-afford-the-fees. Our best soccer athletes are middle and upper-middle-class kids who grew up playing on plush fields with “A” level coaches. Our best international players are mixed race kids who grew up on German air bases in semi-racist environments, which is why they have the “chip on their shoulders”.
10,000 hours of 1-on-1 training with (another middle-class suburbanite) ex-college soccer player will only teach a kid to play SLOW. It won’t piss him off. 10,000 hours of playing soft with 21 other over-fed softies won’t make anyone HUNGER for more – more food, more money or more love. 10,000 hours of training provided to a 12 year old kid who’s driven every day to the gifted program at his school in a luxury car and given all of the love and encouragement necessary to become anything he wants in life isn’t going to produce a top quality professional soccer player. It’s going to create an engineer, a doctor, a math teacher or a successful business man.
Soccer is a blue-collar job. Most of the Soccer Mom Manual readership are NOT raising blue-collar workers. I’m certainly not.
Our current system of player development doesn’t work – no matter how many hours our kids put in – because it’s only targeting those who will PAY THE FEES. Our system does NOT target the demographic who would benefit MOST from the opportunity.
Because why should I – an upper-middle-class, blue-eyed Caucasian male – provide an opportunity to someone not related to me that would create competition for my own off-spring? Most people see that as racism, but it’s really just LIFE. We all protect our own interests first. If it were otherwise, then we would all be living in economic and social harmony. We’d all be equal – but we’re not.
However, if anyone does start training our most desperate youth in the art of soccer, America will reign supreme for many generations to come. Consider Freddy Adu: He was the future of American soccer when he came from Ghana. Then he became a rich American – and everything went South.
Again, Jeff, thanks for your input. I’m interested to know what you think of my rant.