T Nation

Sport Outside America


After being mentioned in an unrelated post it got me thinking-

-How do schools/colleges in America really handle sports and harnessing sporting talent? I'm assuming it's not a carbon copy of the Hollywood film's take on it?
-Am I right in the pressures being completely different depending on where you grow up? I hear in eastern bloc countries weightlifting is for example part of class or heavily promoted from an early age, as well as China seemingly nit-picking from it's vast pool of genetics for every Olympics.

This reminds me of the thread about the potential of street basketball players "potentially" having the genetics (or whatever) to play at a similar standard... whilst I'm not talking about whether I agree, the general response seems to be in America such talent IS generally always found if it's around. As it is, in England, I believe we harness ALMOST NONE of our potential talent, outside of private schools the system for sports education and the promotion of sports is practically non-existent, unless you happen to have family member who already loves the sport or your parents happen to point you in that direction and fund you, you simply will not be likely to take up a sport, and the chances of you being told what you'd be best at are slim to zero. Discuss.


I'm not really sure how it works across the pond, but over here pretty much every school you can find (public, private, etc) has sport programs with multiple options from a very young age. For instance, I remember playing soccer, tee-ball, and basketball through my elementary school when I was 7 years old. Pee-wee sports tend to just feed right into middle school, and then high school sports. If you're great in HS, you might get offered sport scholarships with colleges (D1 schools being the ultimate goal for those aspiring to become professional athletes, but there are many who went pro from lower division schools), and then of course if you're a phenom you'll get all sorts of media coverage and if you're lucky (and awesome), get drafted by a pro team (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, whoever the hell our soccer league is). Most athletes in high school play 2-3 sports, but in college unless you're a distance runner you generally choose to focus on one sport.


You see that sounds "like the movies" and is certainly how I 'imagined' the system to be over there. Over here it seems there is literal no such system in place. 19? Gold medals in Bejing for Great Britain seems a bit more impressive when we consider that all our talent seems to be based on those who CHOOSE to pick that sport rather then were FOUND to be ideal for it, of course you have to try a sport for those to notice but it is not something I've heard of schools doing from an early age over here.. interesting.


schools dont just put kids (make kids play) in organized team sports in america.

The kid has to try out for the sport. Most kids get into sports way before organized school teams (like highschool and in some areas middle school)

Parents will put their kids into Little League or Pop Warner at a very young age and they have to pay for their kids to participate. Then once they get to highschool (normally) they can try out for one of the schools teams (baseball, basketball, soccer, football, track, ect...) If they are good enough then they can make the team and play for them.

Schools dont really "harness" the potential of kids... the kid himself, or the parents of the kid, are the ones who will make that happen.


It is different in different areas of the nation. Some places do different sports.

Some poor places use sports as a way out for kids. Many use athletics to get into and pay for colleges they otherwise wouldn't have.

Some places, things like football are a right of passage of sorts or they get you into the cool kids click at school.

But its a big country it varies.


Ah right interesting stuff, it's the sport "paying for college" part that's always intrigued me the most. Scholarships and all that.

How is the attitude of your average high-school/college football player? In the UK Rugby at this level seems to be linked a stupid degree to being able to drink loads.. it's a well known fact your a pussy of a Rugby player if you can't handle 12+ pints..


I don't think it's that similar. Rugby players (including the few in the US) are just plain crazy.


I've played rugby at various levels in the UK and Aus {both union but mainly league} and have currently lived in the US for the past 7 years coaching rugby so I feel I can comment on this.

Plain and simple I think it comes down to money {as with most things}. In the UK unless you're a stand out at an early age your talent won't be developed. I think the majority of pro players be it rugby or soccer are signed to clubs {not schools} from an early age in the UK.

I currently coach in the DC area and help out at various schools. Even at the poorer high schools football and basketball receive a high amount of funding in comparison to programs at UK schools. Many of these schools employ coaches just for those said sports as opposed to a PE teacher who also coaches the rugby/cricket/soccer teams in the UK.,

Visit any larger uni here and compare sports programs/facilities here to those in the UK. Hands down 100 times better. I feel a lot more time and money here as a whole are put into sports and more importantly player development, and it shows.

Just my 2 cents......


Are you saying that DC high schools have people whose only source of income is what they get paid to coach football or basketball? Just want to make sure I'm understanding you correctly.

To the OP, no, athletes aren't judged on how much they can drink. Some like to party and some are more restrained. Overall I'd say the average college football player drinks more than the average undergrad, but they don't have "drink-ups" per se


Firstly, Its fun that you mention that X country pick into its "genetic pool". It seems like an individual is no more than its genetic.

Secondly who cares


Great answer, thanks, just what I was looking for..

Who cares? I wouldn't know, but it's something I'm interested in.


From my experiences, in the U.S. kids play sports at an early age (elementary school) just as much for socializing, teamwork, etc as for the physicality, winning, etc part of it all. Pretty much everyone I know played some youth sport whether it was little league baseball/softball, soccer, football or basketball. Many kids play a different sport each season (3 or 4 sports) while in elementary school and as they age and mature they start to focus on the sport that they're the best at and by high school they're participating in that sport year round (not that they're aren't high school athletes that play many sports).


The better sports program=the more money for the school.

I went to a school that was ranked 1st D2 Sports Program in HS while I was attending. 80% of the students played some kind of sport. What you start seeing in higher levels in HS was that practices tended to focus on the teamwork; personal skills, you were expected to practice on your own. Thats like 5+hours a day worth of practice.

Most big sports such as football, basketball, track and field, baseball, and other less known sports such as wrestling, waterpolo, etc. They determine on the school competition to help them get scholarships and attention. For them school season is the most important.

With hockey, soccer, swimming, some wrestling (freestyle and greco), etc. Clubs were often more important than schools for these sports, however the school season was just a time to show the schools what you were made of.


No. Just that someone who specializes/has a backround in said sport is bough in. I doubt any are paid full time. Sorry for not being clearer.