Think there aren't still lasting tensions surrounding last year's announcement that boys soccer players who play for U.S. Soccer Development Academy squads are no longer allowed to play for their high school teams?

Think again.

While Broomfield High School hosted a national letter of intent signing day ceremony for several Eagles seniors to make their commitments to the next level official on Wednesday, one athlete left out of the mix was soccer player Thomas O'Brien.

O'Brien, who competed for BHS as a freshman, sophomore and junior, didn't play for the Eagles as a senior in the fall due to U.S. Soccer's new rule. He is a member of the Colorado Rush academy team.

O'Brien signed a national letter of intent to play for Division-I Davidson College in North Carolina. But Broomfield school administrators and coaches made a collaborative decision to recognize only athletes competing for BHS teams.

That stance isn't universal.

Three Niwot soccer players who played for the Colorado Rapids Academy team signed at NHS' ceremony on Wednesday. Fairview included an academy-only player in its ceremony.

It will be interesting to see how instances like this continue to play out as the academy dynamic takes shape in relation to Colorado's high school soccer programs.

Hopefully sanity -- and the students' best interests -- prevail.


Wednesday marked the opening of the national letter of intent signing period only for football, soccer, track and cross country. But Broomfield, just like many other schools often do, included in their celebration students from other sports anyway to allow them the chance to celebrate their commitments.

And that's completely fine. Schools should be in the business of championing their students' achievements. But if you're going to loosen the reins in that respect, then why not include someone like O'Brien?

And what happens if next signing day a BHS student is inking a letter of intent to play, say, Division-I college water polo, a sport not sanctioned at the prep level in Colorado and, thus, not one Broomfield fields a team in? Will that student be excluded from the school's signing ceremony, or will he be given the OK because he didn't choose to play for a club team over Broomfield's own?

At a school with as rich of an athletic tradition as Broomfield and one that overflows with pride, it seems odd that BHS would exclude anyone. It bears repeating that our public schools should be in the business of celebrating their students' achievements -- all of their students.

Unfortunately, Broomfield's stance with regard to O'Brien, at best, looks like a Quixotic attempt to stand guard over school spirit.

At worst, it reeks of sour grapes.

Make no mistake. You can count me among the camp that believes U.S. Soccer's decision to ban its academy players from participating for their high schools is a bad move. They're taking the most talented youth players off the most visible stage for youth soccer. How does that help grow the sport's popularity in America?

But here's the thing: Our elite youth soccer players didn't make the rule. They merely are the ones caught in the middle, forced to decide between the academy experience and their high schools.

They shouldn't be blackballed by adults for their choice.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshLindenstein