Underage Recruiting in the Youth Soccer World
Vincent J. Stanley is the author of the popular Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports: Achieving Balanced Excellence and Health While Embracing the Value of Play for Fun (available on Amazon) believes in reviving the fun in youth soccer. Stanley is also a strong advocate of age appropriate recruiting and was frustrated on a recent trip where he met head-on with D1 colleges and sophomores entangles in the clandestine recruiting process. Here is Stanley’s guest column on SoccerToday:
I was invited to attend a youth sports presentation in Chicago. During the presentation a gentleman got up and spoke about how a sophomore that he knew was already getting offers for a DI athletic scholarship. After the presentation I approached another man who said to me that “Michigan already has a lot of their 2018 recruiting done.” And another one said to me that “The kids are getting the offers, what’s the problem?”
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Well here in a nutshell is the problem. You cannot get a legitimate DI Athletic offer from a college until you have graduated your junior year in high school. You must also have completed the core courses required by the NCAA to be on track to graduate to a matriculated DI college. Next, an athlete then must submit all the required documents to the NCAA eligibility center. After the review, the athlete is issued an ID # from the clearing house. That number is the only number that determines whether an athlete is eligible by the NCAA and the college offering the scholarship.
If that does happen, the student then must sign two letters, the letter of intent. And the grant in aid letter to receive the scholarship
Until that happens, there is no legitimate binding athletic scholarship. Heck if it just took a verbal commitment, Farah Fawcett and I would have been dating a long time ago.
So what is the real problem?
In talks with scouts, coaches and agents, is that the kids who are getting these offers think they are binding, when they are not. There is also the perception that if the college coach does not honor this verbal commitment; he or she will lose recruits. Maybe, but probably not. There many kids waiting to fill theses spots if you are not.
Now there is every reason for recruiters to go younger and younger in their pursuit of talent. We are putting an extrinsic force on a child that should be about internal realization and fun. The professionalization of youth sports and the adulting of kids have long term negative consequences for all concerned.
But lastly, and surely most importantly. My sources tell me that less than half of those commitments will ever be realizes. And that happens for many reasons. The athlete stops developing. They get hurt. They burnout, or lose interest.
But the ones that trouble me the most are the inner city kids who are sold a dream in a race that doesn’t exist and leave sports bitter and betrayed. Then my fear is, they will pass it on to their children. Stop the Tsunami in youth sports