Imagine if a football program was developed for high school boys, designed to take them to the professional football league. They wouldn’t be allowed to play high school football – wouldn’t even be expected to play in college. Instead, they would train intensively several days per week, travel all over the country to play similar teams, and prepare to go straight to the draft.

That’s the monumental shift that has occurred in the world of youth soccer in Dallas, as described in this story in The Dallas Morning News. Star players have been forced to quit their teams because they play for the FC Dallas academy. Interestingly, the only boys who haven’t been yanked from their varsity squads are the Jesuit boys, whose coach, Charlie DeLong, is an FC Dallas coach as well. Jesuit, incidentally, ranked fourth in the country, is the only team to defeat the LHHS Wildcats this season.

The Morning News story shares the pros and cons of the program, in which the pro club pays all expenses of equipment, play, and travel for the boys in exchange for a full commitment of time and energy. For some boys it’s an easy choice. Family finances won’t allow play on a club soccer team any other way. For others not gifted academically, college soccer wasn’t a likely prospect anyway. But for many others, giving up the camaraderie of their high school team — giving up being an active part of campus life – is a high price to pay.

Tuesday afternoon update: Three Jesuit players have quit the FC Dallas team to keep playing for Jesuit high school team. When push came to shove, junior Trey Rayfield and seniors Alexei Reyes and Nathan Dombrowski decided that the fun of high school soccer and the opportunity for a college education were too much to give up.