Disagree on athletes and think it's the biggest meme in U.S. soccer ... plenty of the top echelon soccer players are normal size dudes.
We discussed this yesterday in another thread:
- Until U.S. kids play pickup soccer in groups on the streets outside their house for 3-6 hrs a day, all week, all year (like they do basketball)
- ...and the U.S. has a structure to find the best players early, and nurture them... (see what the Dutch Germans Brazilians do)
We'll be what we are more or less, with some upside from here. There is more than enough population that if we had a soccer culture similar to a basketball culture we'd have a great chance to play with the best. But our kids play soccer a limited amount of hours a week, a limited amount of years in their live. We are losing out on American baseball players the same way (increasingly dominated by Latino countries) because it's not being played as much at the youth level like it used to... apparently in a country like Dominican Rep or Venezuela - baseball on the streets is what their kids do. It's THEIR basketball.
The U.S. is one of the few countries that soccer is a middle class sport - mostly played in organized settings with parents present. That limits how much kids play soccer. In most countries it is the sport of the poor....played endless hours by kids. If you want to get all socio-economic basketball is to U.S. what soccer is to 98% of countries - played in the streets, pickup style, hours on end, by kids of little means generating superstars. But we need not have Lebron James type guys out there to succeed. Look at the size of Neymar and Messi - and there are plenty of guys at world class level who are 5'9, 5'10 and don't run 4.4 40s.I
It's a numbers game - we have tens of millions of kids playing soccer for 2-4 hours a week. We don't have many who play 20-30 hrs a week (or more) from age 4-12 which is where stars are made.