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Jul 14, 2008

A peep into the mailbag

Spring games are history, recruiting classes have been announced and the preseason has yet to begin -- all in all, it's a slow time of year for college soccer news.

Because of the mid-summer lull, I thought this would be a perfect time to answer some of the reader e-mails that have been piling up in my inbox. (To protect the innocent -- or, in one case, the ignorant -- I have removed names and other identifying details. In the interest of full disclosure, I've also edited for brevity's sake and corrected grammar.)

My 10-year-old son is an incredibly gifted soccer player. In an effort to support his talent, we are planning to move, but we are not sure whether we should move closer to a certain club within the United States or if it would be better to move to Europe or Latin America. Where would you suggest the best place to move would be? -- Father of a prodigy

Let me begin by commending you for being such an involved parent. Perhaps, if my mother had been more on the ball when I was in second grade, I'd be making millions playing for Real Madrid and not slaving away covering sports.

As far as where to move, I recommend the Bahamas -- not so much because it's a hotbed of soccer development, but because I went there once on a cruise and the beaches are amazing. That's about all the insight I can offer you on this subject. My recent experience with 10-year-olds is limited to my 10-year-old sister who believes that a dinner of Red Hot Cheetos and Yoo-hoo is completely acceptable. Based on that, I wouldn't bother relocating the family to anywhere for at least a few more years.

Your [Indiana/East Coast/ California] bias is so obvious. -- Anti-Indiana/West Coast/Los Angeles-hating fan

When I began writing for ESPNsoccernet, the little blurb at the end of my pieces mentioned that I worked in Indiana, which led to a barrage of, "You people from Indiana think that Indiana soccer is the only soccer program in the world." Never mind that I had lived in Indiana all of a year and a half at that point, before which my only experience with the state was that I had once seen Hoosiers.

After I left Indiana, those e-mails were replaced by ones that said, "ESPN's East Coast bias is so evident in your writing I can't even believe it. The country extends past New Jersey!"

I once responded, "I am actually aware of such geography considering I'm originally from Southern California." But gave up making any effort to defend such accusations when the person wrote me back saying, "Well that explains it. You people think it's the United States of California."

Sometimes you just can't win.

I'm a high school senior and have so far gotten into [Random State University] and [Smaller Private College]. I have a legitimate shot at playing soccer at both, but I'm not sure which school to pick and wanted to get your opinion. -- Division I hopeful

On one hand, I'm flattered that you value my opinion enough to ask my input on such an important, life-altering decision. On the other hand, I'm somewhat concerned that your seriously value my opinion enough to ask my input on such an important, life-altering decision. But, never one to disappoint my readers, I'm happy to give you my thoughts.

Let's be honest, if you're choosing between those schools and asking me what I think, you're probably not on track to make it in the pros. I'd pick which ever school has the better business program, go there and major in finance.

That is, of course, unless you like subsisting on Top Ramen and Captain Crunch. Then, I'd go to the school with the better journalism program and major in that.

My dog has awesome soccer skills and a "Nike" swoosh marking on her nose. Do you have any advice for marketing and promotion? -- Owner of the world's best soccer-playing collie

I have absolutely no advice for you, but your dog sounds amazing.

Yes, this is from a real e-mail. I'm not nearly creative enough to make something like this up.

You have no credibility when it comes to opinions on men soccer because yours is a woman's opinion on men's soccer. You have no experience playing men's soccer and obviously don't understand what can happen in men's college games because if you did, then you wouldn't make such ignorant and biased judgments (such as not ranking my team in your top 10). -- Bench player from the team that finished near the basement of the NCAA last year

First of all, I looked up your stats and according to your school's web site, you have exactly four more minutes of experience playing men's collegiate level soccer than I do.

Additionally, using your very sound logic, I would like to point out that you have no credibility when it comes to opinions on my sports writing as you have no experience writing about sports.

When you lead your team to that national championship game you promised me, we'll talk.

Well, that's all for now. Until next time loyal readers, keep the e-mails coming.

Maria Burns Ortiz covers college soccer for ESPNsoccernet. She can be reached at mariamburns@gmail.com.

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