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Signing Day anticlimactic in American soccer

Published: February 1, 2012

While the parties involved will no doubt be glad to make it official, National Signing Day as it pertains to American soccer is a bit anticlimactic, especially in comparison to other college sports.
In the women’s game there is no comparison. Top prospects routinely commit during their sophomore year of high school. Players who don’t give a verbal before Christmas of their junior year are made to feel as if their train has already left the situation.
womens' college soccer player lauren bohaboyLauren Bohaboy signed with Nortre Dame last year.
Along with this kind of mania, we are now starting to see an increase in players going back on their word (which is what they give to a college coach when they make a verbal, by the way) and switching schools. One player, if reports are to be believed, has actually committed and reneged to three separate schools before deciding on a fourth. I should note that one source says the same young lady is actually working on school #5, since it is still 24 hours before Signing Day as I write this on Tuesday. Maybe the number of de-commits approaching serial levels will give more coaches pause about offering scholarships so early in the process, but I doubt it. Every coach pays lip service to the issues, but nearly every one continues to operate in the same way.
Signing Day on the women’s side is almost a reminder of who committed where way back when. On the men’s side, the commitments aren’t so early because at a comparable age many boys have barely begun to mature physically. Still, I hear from families of male players on a regular basis during fall of the player’s senior year, just beside themselves that their opportunity has been lost. In football however, that’s when the brunt of recruiting is going on, with players routinely committing through December and January, right up to the Signing Day deadline (which actually is not a deadline, but rather the FIRST day a prospect can sign an NLI).
So Signing Day in soccer is mainly a chance for the players, their families and the programs to certify what they’ve already agreed to do, and we’re happy to share with them in that.
In college football and basketball, following recruiting is practically a spectator sport all its own. The motif in club soccer makes that difficult, however. Getting that college opportunity is the reason 99.9 percent of the families participate, but a great majority of those families tend to be pretty close-mouthed about what their options are during the process. If one or two kids on a team don’t end up getting the college soccer opportunity, it tends to affect the whole dynamic of how the team members publicize and celebrate their decision, which tells me that some kind of Keep Up With The Joneses motif is way too much a part of things in the club soccer world. Just enjoy it folks. It’s not for everyone to move on to the next level, even if they did pay out the wazoo to try and get there.
You don’t have to act like you are not getting attention and enjoying the payoff.
More of this kind of thinking could make National Signing Day a much bigger deal in soccer circles than it currently is.
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