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NCAA-Professional Sports... An Interesting Dualism!

calendario 15.07.2019
by: Nonprosoccer
  • NCAA - Div. I - WOMEN
  • NCAA - Div. II - WOMEN
  • New York
  • United States
NCAA-Professional Sports... An Interesting Dualism!

Although overseas the "sphere" does not represent the emblem of the most historically noble and appreciated sport, due to the culture, and relative youth of the movement, the recent results in both domestic and international male and, above all, female competitions, would seem to wish and confirm a global affirmation of the organization.

In the immediate past, the USMNT’s participation to the Gold Cup, and the USWNT ‘s participation to the more important Women’s World Cup, decidedly more successful and followed than the male counterparts, arose the many comments by the press ... but we'll get to that too. As many people are well aware of, the American sports model, whatever sport it may refer to, creates a strong link between academic institutions, such as colleges and universities, and professional organizations such as, in this case, Major League Soccer (MLS), United Soccer League (USL) and the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), which has integrated in its league the only three surviving teams of the unfortunate North American Soccer League (NASL), failed after a brave, harsh lawsuit with the more powerful MLS in 2017. Despite the limitations the model imposes, since neither relegations nor promotions are implemented, the odds players from colleges around the country to become professional face, are concrete and realistic. In fact, every year, once the Major League Soccer’s season is over, the league itself  organizes the so-called SuperDraft, where "student-athletes" are selected by the MLS teams themselves.

After this small explanatory preamble, useful to introducing the objective of this article, we focus on the composition of the two national teams mentioned above, with a focus on the professionalism dualism-National Collegiate Athletic Association. Gold Cup 2019, hosted by Costa Rica, Jamaica, and United States of America indeed; a tournament that saw the Men’s National Team overwhelming all its opponents without problems, until the final, lost against the political rivals of Mexico. To play the final, out of the 11 players lined up in the starting XI, 45% of the players (5) were drafted out of a college, therefore with an NCAA background: in goal Zack Steffen (Maryland Terrapins), right-back Reggie Cannon (University of California , Los Angeles), central defense Aaron Long (University of California, Riverside), left-back Tim Ream (Saint Louis University), for finally getting to the NCAA multi-champion center forward Jordan Morris (Stanford University). However, if we broaden the same discussion to the whole roster that took part to the competition, then the ratio becomes much more substantial; 65% of the players on the list (15 out of 23) spent one or more years in an American college like Akron, Furman, South Carolina and University of California Bakersfield among others. All seasoned up with other well-known names and some enfants prodige who, despite their young age, accepted the opportunity to immediately establish themselves as professionals, bypassing the collegiate stage. 

Much more striking and eye-opening is the same ratio associated with the Women's National Team, that established it to be the most successful national team in the history of women's football with 4 editions won (including 2 back-to-back): the Women's World Cup. But who of the aforementioned has undertaken a collegiate journey? 100% of the starters, and 22 out of 23 (96%) of the players in the roster divided amongst the most athletics performing and academically valid universities of America: North Carlina Chapel Hill, University of California Los Angeles, California University, Santa Clara University , University of Portland, Penn State University and University of Virginia.
Be careful though, there is also a more "noble" case among these; in addition to the NCAA, there is also the NJCAA (National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association), for which, Jessica McDonald (an important surname in the States, I know ...) performed at Phoenix College, before joining the NCAA in North Carlina Chapel Hill (where Michael Jordan played, just to be clear). 
What can I say… this country truly embraces The American Dream.


Tommaso Vitale

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