Barca’s La Masia: Model or Misdirection?

The Barcelona Football Club or Barca as it is better known to its many fans worldwide was featured on a recent episode of 60 Minutes. The story focused on Barca’s famed La Masia Academy which is the training school for the Catalonianfootball club. The training center attracts some of the world’s most talented pre-teen and teenage soccer players from around the world by offering the players a full, tuition-free education along with the opportunity to develop their soccer talents under the instruction of the world’s best soccer coaching staff. The program has had such success in creating world-class soccer players on a consistent basis that many here in the US argue that it should serve as a modelfor the development of American soccer talent.

While the merits of using this Svengali methodology of developing outstanding athletes is an interesting subject in itself, my question is this: Is the academic training offered anything special or is it all smoke and mirrors?

If you base the discussion of this question on the 60 Minutes report, you would be working with a flawed source. While 60 Minutes makes it look like the academic side of La Masia is run by the Barca like the soccer training side is, this is not the case. The Barca website discussion of the academics clearly shows that this part of the education of the students is farmed off to the local Barcelona school system. Barca merely pays the fees for the students to attend and offers time in their schedule for them to do their homework.

What we have here is another example of the mainstream media adding to its history of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. CBS also adds to its history of not fully reporting a story and not letting some of the inconvenient facts getting in the way of a story. We all can remember Dan Rather and his expose on George W. Bush’s military career back prior to the 2000 Presidential election.

I have to wonder if one of the reasons that CBS and 60 Minutes failed to include the bit of information on the academic side of La Masia was that they didn’t want to deal with Barca’s methods in recruiting talented soccer players at an early age to insure that they have a talent pool to continually draw from over the years. Perhaps if they had asked questions about the academic side, 60 Minutes would have been forced to ask embarrassing questions about the program in general.

By Being Latino Contributor, Jeffery Cassity Jeffery Cassity is a mostly socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative Anglo male who is involved in his local Hispanic community as the widower of a 1st generation Mexican-American woman and his active, some would say hyperactive, membership in the local Council of the League of Latin American Citizens(LULAC)

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