Leading off today:
Three "think pieces" lead off today's blog.
Do we need this? As I've noted in past blogs, I'm not a fan of the U.S. Soccer's Development Academy program. I understand their intent and their goals but despise the blunt-force trauma they've decided to inflict upon the high school brand of the sport.
I'm not as vehemently opposed as I was at the start, but I still have no patience for a program that tears athletes away not only from their high school soccer teams but from the opportunity to play winter and spring sports as well. If I was the American soccer czar for a day, shutting down the academy system would be one of the first three items on my to-do list.
That's why Wednesday's column by Jeff DiVeronica caught my eye. He's is veteran reporter on both the professional soccer and high school sports beats in Rochester. So when he writes about soccer, I pay attention.
He wrote Tuesday, and he took no prisoners.
"Teens are giving up making memories in school sports with friends and classmates they've known since they were toddlers because they're being sold a bill of goods about needing the academy to get better as players and catch the eye of college recruiters," he wrote. "News flash: If you're good enough, recruiters will find you. Trust me."
The kicker -- pardon the quasi-pun -- is that the column takes specific aim at the girls portion of the academy program, and DiVeronica concedes that there's actually some merit to what the U.S. soccer braintrust is trying to accomplish on the men's side of the sport.
Historically, the U.S. has lagged most of the developed world when it comes to success in men's soccer. That's not been remotely close to the case in women's soccer. Other countries are catching up and creating depth at the top in women's soccer, but the U.S. is always a threat to win.
In that context, it's really hard to justify the need for a girls academy program.
You can read DiVeronica's column here.
Should they do this? Abraham Lincoln boys basketball coach Dwayne "Tiny" Morton believes a lack of competition within the state is a primary reason behind the annual migration of some top PSAL talent to prep schools in nearby states.
To that end, Morton is proposing the formation of an eight-team PSAL super league and perhaps another eight-team, second-tier league to assure a slate of games that would compel college recruiters to make more frequent visits to New York City and even create sponsorship opportunities that could boost the PSAL.
"I would put (teams) in the categories of eight," Morton told NYCHoops.net "So, you have your top eight for the last ten years."
Morton's formula would package three Brooklyn teams, one from Manhattan, two from Queens and two from the Bronx based upon recent track records in city and borough Class AA championships. The next tier would include teams at the top of the Class A totem pole along with Class AA teams that just missed making the cut for the top division.
Interborough travel during the week is one hurdle to overcome, but I'd be more worried about a different sort of travel, namely players transferring between schools. The PSAL already has player movement that can generously be categorized as "interesting" (and that doesn't even include the annual poaching of CHSAA talent), and this would make it worse. In essence, these super leagues might reduce the outflow to prep schools but just create more transfers within the city.
Are we starting too soon? As is the case with the majority of high school organizations across the country, the NYSPHSAA operates on a calendar that gives school and sectional administrators a predictable annual schedule for the start of practices and the completion of championships in each sports season.
The calendar renews each year on the first day of the first full week in July, and fall practice for schools can commence at the start of Week 7. If I recall correctly, that means that the latest start date for fall practice would fall on Aug. 19, which will be the case in 2019. At the other end of the spectrum, fall practice next year starts on Aug. 13.
This year's start date was Aug. 14, and Nancy Haggerty at The Journal News raised the question of whether that cuts