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Why Hispanic Media Ignores College Soccer


Maybe this is not the type of topic that quite fits in a place like LLT, but I believe that it does generate opinions in one way or another.  I heard through a few colleagues at my other writing gig and local soccer coaches that do not understand why Hispanic kids do not participate in their local teams and they came up with the fact that the Hispanic media (Univision, Telemundo, Fux Up Sports, and Gol TV) completely ignore the collegiate game.

I was turned aback when I heard that.  It was ludicrous.

The Hispanic media ignores college ball because it would be like overlooking the Super Bowl for Pop Warner ball.  It is also because college soccer has kind of ignored Hispanics.  This topic was generated by a BigSoccer forum thread and there were diverse points of view.

The “Elitism” Of It All

Soccer here in the US is a middle class, even elitist sport.  It is not a way to get out of “the hood”.  Unlike in other countries, playing in rock-laden dirt roads with a ball made out of rags and socks is where dreams come to fruition.  I will argue this until the day I die.  The day soccer becomes a way out of poverty- not a way to get to college- a way to get out of the inner city, then it will become one of the Big Four.   When soccer becomes a legitimate way to get your mom her dream house, then it will be popular here in the US.  College soccer does not offer that to hundreds of  thousands of players in the US.

When people talk about few Hispanics playing at this level,it’s the truth.  There are reasons for that though, and it is sad.  The organized clubs, traveling teams, high schools, and colleges do not cater or encourage young players of Hispanic descent to play at a university level.

Various players that I grew up with, some of them 20 times better than some of the best college players, were never even looked at because they weren’t part of “the program”.  Most of these kids could not afford the expenses of a traveling team or an ODP program.  When I spoke to a close friend of mine, he mentioned that it cost him about US$ 200 dollars a month to keep his kid playing on a traveling team.  I addition you have to add travel costs (plane fares, gas, hotel, etc.) for tournaments that go on every other weekend and tournament fees.  It could cost a parent almost 10 grand a year to keep a kid on one of those elite sides.  Now tell that to a family that has to live on 20-30 grand a year.  That is why various kids fell through the cracks through history.I can tell you from personal experience that it is very tough for a family living on less than 20K a year can pay for their son or sons to on a monthly basis in addition to surviving.

These kids instead played in an adult league that college recruits would not even be caught dead at.  For the collegiate scene, it is not where soccer players develop.  Adult leagues, regardless of how competitive they are, become a wasteland for young players.  They become stagnated and stop developing.

In recent years, there have been other options for youngsters.  Mexico has shown an interest in the players that are being ignored by the US soccer “intelligentia”.  In place since early on in the decade, Mexican officials have gone north of the border to find that talent and develop them in some of the big clubs down there.

Other Options

There is also the potential of going straight to the MLS, its developmental teams, the USL, or abroad.  Players like Landon Donovan and Freddy Adu took advantage of this and made professionalism a viable option for the American soccer player.  Giuseppe Rossi and Jozy Altidore took it to the next level and made it possible for American teenagers to look at Europe in order to make their dreams come true.  Clubs like Real Madrid, Everton, and a host of others have brought youngsters from the US over to develop in their academies across the pond.   This in itself makes it much more exquisite to do than to college.

I am a proponent of these youngsters going for the money first.  College will always be there for them, but the dollars or euros might not.  So why play for free?  At the same time, if the best players aren’t there, why bother?    If college soccer gets little ratings in English, why give a rat’s ass in Spanish when you can see other leagues on a Saturday?


All over the world, universities are not used as feeder programs.   That is the distinct difference between the club vs. franchise models.   Colleges in other parts of the world are people’s options to obtain an education, not to become a professional athlete.  Let’s not be naïve, in the US many athletes go to college to become professional athletes.  Heck, many are professional athletes of sorts with the amount of money that they generate and the investments that are made to help a program grow.

In various countries, the clubs help the kids grow and see them evolve into young men and professional footballers.  The clubs’ model of development has a curve that will have a player    If there is one thing that college does benefit is that they can help cope and handle with the everything that comes along with football.  If one were to track the improvement of player here in the States and one in another country, the big disparity does not become grossly evident until the American kid reaches college.  The foreign kids will take off and continue to improve.  Meanwhile the college kid will grow physically but his skills will either stay the same or deteriorate because the game does not cater to a skill player or keeping the ball on the ground.

Let’s be honest.  UCLA or Virginia do not generate as much passion as a Boca Juniors, Real Madrid, or Barcelona.  The problem is that people that were brought up and fed on college sports and afflilations to schools simply do not understand that the same way of thinking does not apply.   The NBA Developmental League does not generate as much passion as the NBA.   In baseball, a rookie league team is not the same as a Major League franchise.  A high school football camp is not the same as playing on Sundays.

It Plain Sucks

College soccer is not that good.   The game itself has fallen from being the “first division” in the United States all the way to becoming just another option for MLS and USL teams to fill gaps.  It was looked down upon because of the NCAA’s prepotence in doing things their way.  Their stops and starts, and unlimited substitutions changed the game and the fluidity that soccer fans are used to is non-existent.  The pace of the game is pretty much the same.  Three long passes and a cross to the middle of the box.  You can only take so much of kick and rush and unimaginative play.   This is what frustrates fans that want to see a spectacle and what they get is two narcoleptics armwrestling.

Tell us what you think?

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  2. WoodsidePatriot

    December 28, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Great article, Juan.

    Excellent points made.

    I would highlight that college soccer and Hispanics do not mix for the right and the wrong reasons.

    The right reasons in that the level of play is generally awful. Its a style of play that emphacizes fitness, speed and athleticism over imagination, dribbling and passing skills. It makes for a great aerobic workout –if you happen to be playing— and for a boring ping-pong, tennis like bouncing of the ball back and forth sort of soccer.

    The wrong reasons are that, unfortunately, there are only a handful of American Latino players participating and this in turn is because American Latinos have the highest high school dropout rates, thus most do not make it to college at all.

    Social solution. American Latinos have to find a way to help their children do well in primary and secondary school and get them motivated to attend college, the good soccer players can then qualify for soccer scholarships.

    Soccer solution. Ditch college soccer as the main source of MLS youth talent. Have all MLS clubs, finallly, fully develop their own developmental youth teams. Make a comprehensive effort to reach out and identify American Latino youth talent in the barrios and mostly urban dwellings most American Latinos live. Provide financial assistance to those that need it.

    As to Hispanic media attention to college. Olvidalo! They are nice kids, but come on, the playing style if unwatchable.

    “Play and let play” is the Brazilian way. For those of you who do not what I mean, I will be glad to write more extensively about this on another occassion. This is the only way to play the game, anything else is a soccer sin.


    Woodside Patriot


  3. Antonio Reis

    December 27, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    I don't think many people considers college soccer as a serious venue for entertainment.
    Even the MLS with dedicated marketing functions have limited entertainment value and exists only due to large youth participation in the sport.
    The main problem with soccer in the USA is not the level of play or the greatness of soccer in another parts of the world. It is true that the level of soccer in the US is lower than in England, Germany or Spain.
    However consider this position…
    Managers of MLS clubs establish relations with clubs aboard such as to give the appearance of a minor league affiliation.
    There is not relegation in the MLS so there is little incentive for dedicated play by those teams without aspirations to the league title.
    There is little a small club can look for since getting into the MLS is mostly related to angel money and not effective development of soccer.
    There is little a young soccer player can aspire to since the youth club rarely has an organized adult team and quickly finds that the full ride college dream is just that, a dream that only a few good students can realize. The emphasis here is good student and not good soccer player. Just imagine if in order to be a raper, one would need to major in physics.
    The USSF develops youth soccer academies with output of less quality than a barrio leagues.
    In the US we have National Championships at the age of 11. May appear crazy but in a country of 320 million with enough participation and organization to compete at 11 at a national level the problem is not fans or interest. Those managing the top echelons of soccer do not have enough knowledge about development of soccer culture through inclusion of masses. They consider themselves inferior and they get treated as such.
    College soccer is just the bottom end of the chain and it is not surprising that it has little entertainment value.

  4. Juan

    December 22, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    Forgotten dogpile. LOL
    Cool stuff, Joe.

  5. Joe

    December 22, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    True, but the “US sports model” you speak of applies to football and basketball only. In baseball, like in soccer, though not as severe; the most elite players are better off playing for a professional dev team (AAA, AA, A-ball) rather than the NCAA.

    The reason the football model is the way it is, in my opinion, is that when gridiron football was born in this country, it was as a collegiate sport. In fact, most recently portrayed in the movie “Leatherheads”; in football's early days, the professional organization was kind of a joke compared to college football; and really stayed that way until the 50's — argued by some, after the “Greatest Game Ever Played”, the first overtime NFL championship was contested between Baltimore and New York.

    But only in the last handful of decades has the professional version of the sport become the biggest spectator event in all the land. Similar story with basketball. It was invented as a college intramural activity in Kansas. The NBA had a quicker rise than the NFL did, but lately it seems that the biggest basketball games in college are more of a draw than the NBA — think March Madness versus the NBA Finals…

    For baseball, college baseball is not even really on the map. Where can you find it on TV? You really can't. Unless the College World Series is on. And even then, it doesn't look like a huge sellout event — though not nearly as bad as the miserable failure that was the promotion of the College Cup (were there maybe 10 people there???)

    So there isn't a full-on “U.S. system” across the board. I think every sport is different, and I'd throw NCAA soccer on the forgotten dogpile that includes NCAA baseball and NCAA hockey.

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  8. Fuega Love

    December 19, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Interesting. I think for Hispanic media and Hispanics themselves to pay attention to college soccer, as Juan got to the point, they need to pay attention to us. NCAA does a bad job of marketing themselves and they do a bad job at highlighting their Latino players – if they have any. It is not until recent years that Univision has began highlighting NCAA football. There has, at the same time, been an increase of Latino football players in this division such as, USCs Mark Sanchez, Virginia Tech's Devin Perez, UTEP's Jose Martinez and more. Even in smaller but growing Hispanic markets such as Oklahoma and Little Rock broadcasts of the NCAA football games can be heard. I wonder if these local team who are having issues in recruiting Latino kids have opened the doors and reached out or if they are just complaining.

  9. Jonathan

    December 18, 2008 at 7:14 pm


    Excellent points. While the NFL and NBA can rely on universities to develop players, it just won't work with soccer

    Thank you for pointing out the flaws of the system. So many soccer commentators and pundits make excuse for NCAA soccer and become apologists for it like this silly article titled “Colleges still an important pipeline to the pros”

  10. lil j

    December 18, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    yo this is lil j, I have to say thats true I have a 12 year old daughter who's at the top of her age group and I also have a problem keeping her in club. Seems like you cant catch a break. also the coaches are'nt qualified, I do a better job coaching her at home. I played in Juarez Mexico and the game level is higher. I'm not saying mexicans are better but I will say as fans and love of the game we are. and it needs to change because I am an american now and I want my american brothers to fill the same about the greatest game in the world. I mean when we have a world cup champion in soccer we actually played the world to earn the title. correct me if I'm wrong.

  11. Horhay

    December 18, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Yo, I've worked college soccer games and the NCAA rules for the game are ridiculous. They undoubtedly stifle the progress of soccer players in the U.S. The U.S. sports model of developing pro athletes is no good when it comes to soccer. An aspiring pro soccer player would be better served by latching on to a pro team's developmental program. College soccer is best for those wanting to play for a free education. Hispanic media will never cover any levels lower than MLS in the U.S.

  12. Juan

    December 18, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Have you seen Fux Soccer Report? They give you reports of all divisions (even the Conference). As and Marca in Spain talk about Segunda Division and Segunda B. Italy have reports from Serie B and C1. Argentina transmit their second and third division matches on the radio.

    So don't give me that argument that no one pays attention to teams that aren't in first division. Maybe not here in the US. That was weak, Daddy. Very weak. (I guess you wanted me to say that.!

    College soccer is not that good, compared to the youth academies of many clubs abroad.

  13. YourDaddy

    December 18, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Why bother with college soccer???
    Almost all latin nations have lower divisions (something US doesnt), and those also get very little attention until they are about to ascent to the Primera Division (Another thing the US doesnt have – unlike the rest of the soccer nations).

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