I personally just think competitive kids gravitate to these type teams. Most all kids want to know how they "stack up" by middle school. I never told or suggested to my son which team he should play on. We are from a very small, rural area and he played with his friends until age 14. We did travel some and played against some of the top teams, and this fueled my son's desire to play at that level because he felt he was good enough. I told him that if he ever were asked to play with a top level organization, I would be open to the idea, as long as it was the best team in that organization at his age level. Before you think that sounds pompous on my part, understand our situation. We live 3 hours from Atlanta, 2 hours from Tallahassee and 3 1/2 hours from Savannah. These are the larger cities in our area that had the academy-type organizations. I wasn't willing to drive that distance to fund the top level team just so my son could say he was playing with "X". After his sophomore year in high school, he was invited to play with the East Cobb Astros. He gladly accepted this position and actually lived in Atlanta with one of the players on the team during the summer between his junior and senior year of HS. This was really the only way we could even make this work. Luckily for us, the team had a charter bus that took the players to all the tournaments. It was a similar setup to college. All I had to worry about was getting myself there and finding lodging for me. The team took care of travel and lodging for the players.
The bottom line for us was our son was no different than most of yours. He wanted to play with and against the best competition out there. It was just a little more difficult for us because of geography. If we had lived in Atlanta and he wanted to play with the Astros when he was 12, I would have been all in as long as he was competitive.