Football in the United States: This is how the college system works

Not only do Americans say football and they mean football: there are many differences in the United States. We answer questions about the American college system – such as the level of football and how many German talents are present.

Georgetown Voice Fans: College sports attract huge crowds in the United States.

Georgetown Voice Fans: College sports attract huge crowds in the United States.
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How are amateur sports formed in the United States?

A club or association structure, such as in Germany, is not known in the United States Sports are integrated into the education system here. Universities and colleges usually offer a number of games for which they have full-time – and sometimes very well-paid – coaches and mostly great training conditions. College sports have an equally strong identity-building effect for students. The popularity of spectators is sometimes very high (5,000 fans are not uncommon in soccer league games), so the university game could also be marketed in the United States.

Is there an association?

Both are National Collegiate Athletic Associations (NCAA) As well as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Non-profit organization that organizes collegiate games across the country. Although the largest university in the country is a member of the larger NCAA, the NAIA consists primarily of small and medium-sized colleges. There are also NJCAA (National Junior College Association) is another association where universities have joined together, enabling a shorter (four semesters) and significantly cheaper study.

How many colleges or universities are there?

There are more than 4,000 public and private universities officially listed in the United States – but not all of them offer sports programs. Currently about 1100 universities are organized in NCAA. NAIA has about 250 members and NJCAA has about 520 junior colleges.

What does the soccer league system look like?

Although the NAIA has only one “level”, the NCAA has three divisions. In general, large universities / colleges compete in the most prestigious Division I and smaller ones in II and III. Athletic scholarships can only be awarded by Division I and Division II colleges. There is no promotion or retirement in the division. The divisions are geographically divided into more than 20 leagues (‘conferences’). Still: because of the long distances, teams may have to fly away in their games. The NJCAA also has three divisions.

How many football teams play in the division?

Example NCAA, Division I: About 200 men’s teams and over 300 women’s teams are currently listed in more than 20 leagues. Division III already has over 400 teams – both men’s and women’s. With about 220 teams playing in NAIA’s 20 leagues, NJCAA’s soccer program has about 240 teams (male / female).

What is a German Comparison Division I level?

This is very difficult to judge because the gap in performance in the league can be quite large. In addition, there are very different football philosophies: on the west coast, the sport is (usually) technically better than on the east coast, where it is more athletic. If you play in Germany from the regional leagues to the state leagues (for men) or from the Bundesliga to the association leagues (for women), you have a chance to get a scholarship. The level can therefore be located at the bottom end of this pole.

How does a season go?

Soccer is known as the “fall game” in the United States. Intensive preparation for the season (“Pre-season”) Usually begins at the end of July. At this time, there is a schedule of preparation games and several daily training sessions against other colleges.

Main season league games (“Season”) Is held in the winter semester and is held only from August to early December. During the season, training is usually reduced to one training session per day. First, universities play each other once in their regional “conferences” – usually several games each week. The winners of each season qualify for it “National Playoffs”, Where teams compete against other conference winners in a knockout format. The winner of this national play-off won the coveted title of National Champion.

The so-called growth occurs in the spring (summer semester) “Timeless” (Mid-January / late to early May). The focus here is athletic development. This is the time for “unofficial” games. Then there will be a long break at the university till the end of July.

Is there an equal opportunity in the university?

A university will certainly not attract unlimited athletes with scholarships. The NCAA policy for men’s soccer is that there are approximately nine full scholarships for a team’s coach squad (25-35 players). That means: if he gives a full scholarship to an actor, he has only eight left to fill the rest of his squad position. There are also scholarships that cover part of the cost and are charged proportionally. Scholarships can therefore be compared to the budget that a coach – at the same time a squad planner in college sports – has available.

NCAA teams budget more for women: Because women’s football competes less in universities, there are about 14 full scholarships available for the coach’s squad.

Do some players get paid?

Players are prohibited from being paid to practice their sport – they will lose their amateur status and will not be allowed to participate in college competitions. Financial assistance can only be provided in the form of benefits – such as scholarships that control tuition fees, meals and accommodation.

How old are the players?

Most of the players on the college team are between the ages of 18 and 25.

How many Germans are currently playing in US colleges?

We received statistics from the NCAA on this subject: According to a 2020 official NCAA survey, 367 men and 126 women from Germany were involved in the association’s football program. Germany has the third largest group of foreign students, after Canada and Great Britain.

What is sports after college?

Get the chance to get a professional contract in MLS (Major League Soccer) or NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) through the best talent draft of the year. Also, there is the USL Championship for Men, which is considered the second division in the US Soccer League system. There is another option for talented men from 2022: the vision of MLS clubs is comparable to the newly established “MLS NEXT PRO” – U-21 or U-23 Bundesliga youth team for teams.

We have two talented companions on their way

“Across the Pond: College Soccer Adventures”


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