ESPN reported that the famed soccer club, Real Madrid, signed a 7-year old soccer prodigy to a contract. Seven. Years. Old!!!!? How does one identify a soccer prodigy at that age? Something about that is deeply unsettling to me. Maybe it’s the stealing of a child’s youth to simply enjoy the game. Maybe it’s the way in which a simple game is a money-making machine. In our fast-paced culture, it seems that even children need to grow up faster. I can only imagine the kind of pressure this puts on young athletes as well as their parents. How does a parent make the call on sports for kids? When do you push your kid to make the jump from rec teams to travel teams? A principal from a local high school remarked to me that college teams rarely look at high school teams anymore. The recruiting grounds are the paid travel/club teams. Go to a local park on a Saturday morning and you’ll see the sports factories that require young children as raw materials. This story just reminds me once again of what the world is coming to.