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greenjar_01

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Chicago
Home country: USA
Current location: Chicago
Member since: Wed Dec 4, 2019, 09:03 PM
Number of posts: 5,537

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On Youth Soccer, Participation Trophies, and the USMNT

In another thread (this is not a call out!), a poster attributed a laxity among parents and Kids These Days to the phenomenon of supposed participation trophies in youth soccer, adding that nobody keeps score, and it's an "everybody wins" atmosphere. I suppose I'm here to dispute that, but also to point to the political-economic issues that can be seen as a partial factor to the USMNT not making the Olympics (again) this year.

So, first, youth soccer. I have been involved in youth soccer in the US for more than 40 years, as a player, a parent (girls and boys leagues), a coach, and a referee (also girls and boys leagues). I have participated in a variety of kinds of leagues and clubs across five states and in different kinds of locales. When some kids are very small, they may get, like, a little medal or something for playing. But I have never seen a league that didn't keep score, didn't track who was winning, and didn't reserve trophies for the league winners that year/season. I'm not sure where this idea comes from, but it doesn't match my decades of experience in US youth soccer across the country.

Youth soccer in the US is, in fact, extremely competitive, maybe even too much so. Kids get washed out at ages eight, ten, and thirteen, just like in other sports, when they can't move up in skill and so "lose interest." Club soccer in the US is exorbitantly expensive (which leads to problems, about which more later). Every league I've ever seen keeps score and records wins and losses. You know who the strongest players are in each league, and the clubs start scouting kids at age eight. There are, of course, leagues/organizations like AYSO that seek to ensure that every kid can play. They too are competitive. AYSO keeps score, believe me. In fact, the only place I've seen actually trophies given out to every kid in a league was a t-ball league for 4 -5 year olds that my son played in. I'm sure people will now come in and say "when my kid played..." etc. I guess, but I don't think the "participation trophy" is actually a thing that happens much in US youth soccer, above age 4 or 5 anyway. It wasn't in 1980, and it's not today.

So, the USMNT. They missed the Olympics again this year. One of the major supposed culprits is the club system. What's the problem? A season of soccer for a US kid can cost over $2000; between the club seasons and the high end training, you might be in the $4000 range for a season. It's completely nuts. So, our system actually limits development of talent on the front end - many kids who could be developed into top talent never enter the competitive club system because it is simply too expensive. Participation trophies aren't the problem in US youth soccer. Money is.

The counterpoint is, of course, that the club system is also at play for girls soccer, and the USWNT is the best ion the world, hands down. So, how?

Cubs and White Sox allowed to fill 20% of seats to start season (Mayor Lightfoot)

https://twitter.com/chicagosmayor/status/1368955464545832961

Lightfoot Tweet: Folks, we've significantly slowed the spread of COVID, getting our positivity rate down to 2.8%. And now, we can begin to safely welcome fans back to our baseball stands on opening day. Although we’re reopening, masking is still of utmost importance.

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