Too many foreigners..? - USA Athletics Scholarships

Too many foreigners..?


Too many foreigners?

I was listening to a radio debate recently where a panel of experts were addressing the state of England football team following its abysmal world cup campaign. Numerous topics were discussed on how to move things forward – improved coaching, academy set up, better facilities, the use of ‘B teams’; these are some that I can recall. However, the area that they talked about most was the issue that too few English players are currently playing regularly in the premiership. When it came to possible measures to stop the English Premier League being completely overrun by foreigners, the agreed answer was simple – limit them.  In essence, placing a limit on the number of foreign players each club could have in its squad or match day team.

I certainly do not claim to be a football expert or armchair Alex Ferguson, so without wanting to go off topic, this discussion got me thinking as to a subtle difference I have noticed between British and American attitudes when it comes to sport. One solution not mentioned by any of these pundits was for the English players simply to get better, so that clubs do not always have to go abroad to search for new talent.

This is where a link can be made to the NCAA. Foreign athletes have for many years been competing for in collegiate track and field and cross country. There are no limits on the number of foreign athletes and many teams completely go to town on this freedom of recruiting. UTEP’s Kenyans and New Mexico’s Brits are two prime and current examples.

Rather than complain or try to limit these foreigners, the vast majority of American athletes (especially the better ones), simply seem to get on with the challenge in hand and embrace trying to reach the higher standard required to be successful. American athletes enrolling in college know that to win titles, not only will they have to beat athletes from all 50 states, they will also have to defeat Kenyans, Brits, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders and so on.  Of course there can be some resentment from Americans – foreign athletes taking scholarships and places on teams away, but I always felt that this was very much a minority opinion.

Not only do Americans benefit from the influx of foreigners, but I also believe this to be one significant reason why many British athletes do thrive in the US. The level required to be competitive goes up significantly, and often this can bring about a complete overhaul in the mind-set of the athlete of what counts as an acceptable level of performance.

Contrast this to the UK where British / England Athletics have recently taken measures in their competition relay rules that limit clubs to only fielding one foreign athlete to compete per team. Need I say more….


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