And someone I went to high school with noted the number of African-American players on our CWS roster (that would be Isaiah Campbell in case you were wondering). I had noticed while in Omaha that the Beavs weren’t exactly ethnically diverse either; they have one black and one Asian kid. So I looked up the rosters of all eight teams in Omaha. UWash led the way with 3 black kids, two from the Seattle area and one from Cali. Texas had two. So did Florida. Everybody else, IIRC, had one.
We have touched on the point here that elite travel teams and private coaching are now a big deal in baseball and softball, and it’s becoming increasingly rare for kids to get D-I scholarships without that kind of experience (which means Mom and Dad paid for that experience). And the financial resources required mean that mom and dad are much less likely to be minorities.
But I’m wondering if maybe relying on travel-team talent sells us short. If we’re missing kids who could play. The black kid from Ashdown who signed with LSU, for instance. I don’t know if DVH recruited him hard or not.
It’s also true that, regardless of financial resources, many modern black athletes pass on baseball for football or hoops. I suspect Justice Hill could be a damn good player in any sport he chose, and Fitz has the resources for him, but he has chosen the hoops/FB path. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were both born in Alabama. I suspect these days Willie might have been a wide receiver for Bama and Hank a DB for Auburn.
But is that going to change with the increasing awareness of the dangers of football including CTE? Are parents of all colors going to steer their kids away from the gridiron and into sports with no history of causing CTE? Maybe in 10 years, the next Justice Hill is a shortstop/point guard, not a receiver/point guard.
I think soccer will and already is a beneficiary of the demise of football for kids of color. Here again though , pay to play is an issue. Great training just sn’t available unless you are willing to pay big bucks. Fortunately, US Soccer is waking up and realizing how this system is squandering a lot of potential National team talent. Not making the World Cup may have been a blessing in disguise.
You make good points Jeff. I’ve seen this up close and personal here in Chattanooga. Howard High School is located in the inner city whose students grew up in very rough poor neighborhoods. A high percentage are black with a good number of Hispanic’s included. Howard is the High School that Reggie White attended. Over the years football and basketball have survived but baseball died. A couple of years ago Jon Johnson a young Spanish teacher with a background in coaching baseball moved to Howard. Several kids approached. Jon and asked him to coach baseball. After initial resistance from the principle and AD they said “have at it but we don’t have money to fund the team”.
Jon has a heart for these kids and knew he needed to move forward. The old baseball field was overgrown and only had home plate and a chain link backstop. At this point Jon began soliciting help in getting the field play ready and help in getting all equipment needed. Several men from our church became involved, local businesses gave funding, other teams from HS, college and pro teams donated gloves and equipment. The first year was tough since none of these kids had ever played organized baseball. Imagine trying to get a pitcher ready with no prior experience. But they won 1 game.
This year my buddies and the community really made the field into a nice HS baseball facility. I was blessed to help. We have a group of men who are working on putting together a non profit to build a girls softball field and a youth baseball field adjacent to the Howard field. And get kids involved from a young age by organizing youth baseball which is non existent in the inner city. Local businesses have pledged big bucks to help us get it started and we’re looking into a MLB program to fund things like this.
When you spend time around these kids your heart breaks to hear their stories. And it’s like this in most cities in america today. These young men are learning to love baseball but more important they have men in their lives that care about their futures. Good stuff. Really good stuff.
The societal forces that led to white-flight from racially diverse cities to mostly white suburbs is alive and well in baseball. (And states like Arkansas where the quarter of the state with the least minorities is growing while the rest of the state with more minorities lags way behind.) White athletes who want to succeed are choosing baseball now since it gives them a greater chance to be successful than basketball, track, boxing, or football.
Pay to play is actually a big problem for US soccer, and is one reason we’re not able to punch our weight at the international level. Even with 300-million-plus people, if you trim the talent pool down to those whose parents can afford pay to play, that’s a giant trim. Imagine basketball if kids like LeBron James couldn’t afford to learn the game. USS is trying to expand access, but there’s a lot of years and a lot of people invested in the PTP system and it won’t go easily.
Swine, I disagree with the highlighted portion. I have a friend who played on the US Amatuer team back in 96-98. His reasons, and they are something to consider, is in other countries, THE BEST ATHLETES are recruited to play Futbol. Here, our best athletes are recruited to play Football, Basketball, Baseball, and several other sports, first. In the US, Soccer is down around the 4th/5th/6th (depending on community) when it comes to our “best athletes”.
That’s also why our women are always considered the top tier in soccer. Women only have two major sports competing for those athletes, basketball and soccer.
Something to keep an eye on with this is the St Louis community. When the Rams went back to LA, there are a lot of “soccer fans” in this area who have actually not only approached MLS about St Louis, but tossed out the Champions League to gauge if they were willing to expand. It’ll be interesting to see if it attracts some of the major athletes from this area for major competition.
Champions League? What the heck are you talking about? That’s UEFA. They ain’t expanding to North America.
I disagree with your (and his) assessment of world soccer. Lionel Messi was not recruited to play soccer. He was pretty much born with a futbol attached to his left foot. I think world soccer in many countries is very much like basketball in US urban areas – just about everyone plays and the cream rises to the top; some may then switch to other sports if they have some aptitude (Pau Gasol, for instance, as a 7-footer in training, probably figured out pretty quickly that his ball of choice at FC Barcelona was orange in color). Not every top athlete plays soccer, obviously, or the Olympics would only be one sport, but many of them do.
Duh, I’m very much aware they are in Europe. I’m telling you the guys trying to get the team in St Louis pitched it, to see if they were willing to expand. They also pitched to MLS, and again it was to see if they would expand. (And I am aware MLS is our soccer league)
You realize you agreed that the other countries play “futbol” and their best rise to the top (recruited for the better leagues), and that it does not happen here (what both me and him said)
You are correct there are very good players that rise to the top in other sports (like the Gasol’s), BUT Messi, if he was an American Citizen, would probably have never looked at soccer.
So some moron in St. Louis pitched UEFA on a completely lamebrain idea which I’m sure UEFA officials are still laughing about and this is supposed to reflect the growth of the sport in the US? I might as well lobby the SEC for membership for Fort Smith Southside.
You realize that the process you describe does happen here. Somebody figured out that Clint Dempsey was more than trailer park trash from Nacogdoches and got him into the national team pipeline. He was only able to remain on an elite team in Dallas, though, because his teammates’ parents recognized his talent and paid his fees to stay on the team. As a result, he managed to stay in the pay to play circles even without the economic resources.
But that’s not really what you said. A kid being rewarded with a pro contract or a spot at a US Soccer tryout is not being recruited, he’s being identified. To the extent that two clubs might be vying for his services, sure that’s recruiting, just as Treylon Burks is being recruited to play college football. But you suggested that the recruiting is getting kids to choose soccer instead of other sports, and that is expressly NOT what is happening. You are correct that if Messi had been born in Arkansas instead of Argentina, he probably wouldn’t have become a soccer player. Although if he hadn’t gone to Spain and done the HGH treatments, he wouldn’t have become the superstar he is either.
Actually, think about the area. Other than the Cardinals, you’re talking about a vary large area without a major sport (at least four hours, KC 3:34 without traffic on game day). A lot of people in AR, MO, TN, KS, Iowa, Nebraska have interest in soccer. Getting a MLS team would peak a lot more interest in the area, getting UEFA (and UEFA has gauged expansion in the US, not saying it was/or would be in St Louis) would be the Top Tier leagues and get more interest than a MLS team would. As you said, guys like Renaldo, Messi, Neymar would be coming to play. Young kids would notice. It wasn’t an “idiotic” idea as you suggested, it wasn’t a bad idea. If it would have worked, it would have been a major coup, and would have spurned a lot more AAU type soccer leagues.
I totally agree about the “Pay for Play” issue that is hurting the growth of US Soccer. All the talking heads are in full agreement on that. However, I am encouraged by the diversity on the rosters of US U-17 and U-20 teams.
With youth increasingly turning away from football, US with its current demographics, have a unique opportunity to have the best of white, black and Latino players to fill the roster. No other country is blessed with that. US Soccer federation has to launch programs in the inner cities to attract minority kids to soccer. I think Ernie Stewart is going to do just that.
There is no reason US Soccer should have not similar diversity in its roster to what nations such as England, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Switzerland have. And as I said we can fill the roster with Latinos that these countries can’t.
The current trend in parents turning kids away from football and the trend in US demographics should be very good for the future of US Soccer.
I think you’re right. Although the head impacts of heading the ball (or banging foreheads with someone else trying to head the ball) mean soccer is not immune to the risk of CTE either. There have already been lifelong soccer players found to have CTE posthumously (currently CTE can only be diagnosed during autopsy).
But then again, baseball players can get beaned, or struck in the head by a bat. Maybe no sport is completely safe. Goalkeepers don’t normally head the ball, but Arsenal’s Petr Cech has worn a rugby helmet for years after he sustained a skull fracture in a collision with another player’s knee; that skull fracture could conceivably have killed him.