The Downsides of America’s Hyper-Competitive Youth-Soccer Industry

Discussion in 'NorCal Scene' started by psyclone, Jul 14, 2018.

  1. psyclone

    psyclone Member

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    Article in this week's Atlantic Monthly. Not much new for us, but much wider exposure to the general public.

    Pretty harsh on US Soccer for its National Team's first policy. I'm with them 100% on that.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/family/...per-competitive-youth-soccer-industry/565109/

    One paragraph:

    Last year, U.S. Soccer imposed a new rule that made these problems worse. The rule was seemingly innocuous: Clubs had to start organizing teams according to players’ birth year rather than their academic year, which caused a lot of roster reshuffling. Victor Matheson, an economics professor at College of the Holy Cross, said that U.S. Soccer made this change to more easily identify the top 20 teenage players for the 17-and-under World Cup, which will be held in Peru next year. He says the change has further disrupted players’ social lives, as it has split up established teams made up of longtime friends. “The entire program is designed to train and identify an elite core of 20 players who will be on the U.S. team in 8 or 18 years,” said Matheson, adding, “this is a tiny fraction of kids who play soccer.”
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  2. TJsoccer

    TJsoccer Active Member

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    I appreciate the sentiment in the article, but it really doesn't give any objective evidence that soccer is suffering from any of the changes or the emphasis on specialization/competition. League revenues tell a different story:

    Norcal Premier's revenue numbers
    12-13 2.5MM
    13-14 2.2MM
    14-15 2.8MM
    15-16 3.3MM
    16-17 3.9MM - First Year of new age grouping

    Cal North
    12-13 5.0MM
    13-14 4.8MM
    14-15 4.5MM
    15-16 4.7MM

    Whereas Cal North is basically flat/declining slightly, the more competitive/more specialization league (Norcal) is growing rapidly and industry is showing overall growth (not all just cannibalizing of CalNorth). Elite soccer (ECNL/DA) has also exploded in the market.

    That said, the age group change may have an impact going forward. The numbers are only available for that first year, and I would expect to see the change in the second/third year. But, I would think that evidence of lower demand would be seen in club mergers/consolidations...which we aren't really seeing.

    On the other hand, the budget committee of Norcal Premier had this to say in March:
    "Currently a projected loss of $27k (based on little-to-no projected competition growth)"
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tfobmGwmbhGFBpHJznp_-wu0u7xajrQ80Zh7-o7lEwE/edit
  3. psyclone

    psyclone Member

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    The article isn't about the health of soccer in the US (and especially not as measured by revenue), but rather about whether it is good for kids or not.

    League revenue is far from a good indicator about that.
  4. TJsoccer

    TJsoccer Active Member

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    what is good for their kid is a decision that each parent makes. revenue numbers show that parents are making the decision that the current soccer industry is working for them....otherwise they would make other choices. If the age group change was that big of deal (I hate it, btw) it would have impacted the participation rates and the revenues of the leagues. I'm not sure if we are seeing that.

    I think the medical side of the article is interesting. But you are still left with questions with the stats they quote.

    I think parents are responding to the other options that exist. The best and brightest of Silicon Valley spend all their time trying to figure how to keep 10-11 year old girls focused on their iphone screen.
  5. TJsoccer

    TJsoccer Active Member

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    Here is participation rates for HS girls soccer over the last 5 years for California. If the youth soccer industry is chasing kids out of the sport, you would think it would be reflected in the HS participation rates. Overall, it has grown. We will have to see if it levels out or decreases from here on out.

    https://nfhs.org/ParticipationStatistics/ParticipationStatistics/

    12-13 43,282
    13-14 43,819
    14-15 44,670
    15-16 48,769
    16-17 47,139
  6. footballnut

    footballnut Member

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    I don't think the article is about the soccer industry suffering, I believe it's about the kids suffering. And I agree. Just because revenue is going up doesn't mean that is due to positive changes and due to parents thinking it's best for their kids. It's due to US Soccer making the rules--many of them not at all good for the kids--and parents/kids being forced to go along or quit soccer.

    The GDA is a perfect example of US Soccer doing something that is almost solely for their own selfish interests, greedy grab for money, and egos. No $$$ at all for the girls (if their GDA is so important to finding talent, put some money into it!). The amount of travel, the missed school days, the idiotic subbing rules, the refusal to allow players to do another sport or play high school. How is ANY of the former for the benefit of the player???

    Soccer participation is actually going down, not up. Was 10.4% in 2008, 7.7% in 2016.

    https://assets.aspeninstitute.org/content/uploads/2017/09/Core-Participation.png

    I fear this decline will only accelerate with US Soccer making soccer more and more exclusive and expensive. Pretty soon only the very rich will be able to afford the sport.

    Time will tell, but I--for one--am so grateful my kid was able to play soccer when we just had regular comp, rec, and select. The fun is being sucked out of the sport for the love of money.
  7. wil4pres

    wil4pres Member

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    After looking at the chart you provided all sports seemed to take a hit even the typical US ones ie basketball, football (where is baseball?) etc so i don't know if we can say SOCCER is doing anything wrong.

    What are kids suffering have they been denied play? Can a player sign up for recreation and play, just like in bball players can join CYBL and not an AAU team?
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
  8. TJsoccer

    TJsoccer Active Member

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    the kids are "suffering"? kids are being "forced to go along or quit"? Are you sure you aren't talking about gymnastics?

    The local league registration numbers aren't perfect measures, but they sort of work because they include just registration fees for the non elite leagues and events. They do not include uniform and equipment contracts, travel, elite level training, or other things associated with with the soccer industry. It basically just money collected for kids to play soccer in a local league. They are increasing in the face of competition from Elite soccer cannibalization (DA and ECNL) and other options like Futsal or other sports.

    I really thought the age group change was going to impact local soccer. I hate the premise behind it (my December kid is playing on a team that has all children in a higher school grade....its stupid). But I don't see an actual impact to the overall participation. I could be wrong, but we will see.

    US Soccer may be screwing up soccer for the super elite kids with their combine age groups and subbing rules, but the article isn't talking about that. Its talking about soccer overall. I do think the Elite level soccer would benefit from regionalization (as opposed to national leagues). But its the parents (responding to scholarship opportunities) that drove that change.
  9. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream Member

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    Would be a good stat to follow on invites all age groups to National Camp from DA or ECNL. Latest u17 camp #’s in KC
    DA 20 girls
    ECNL 8
    US soccer could be sending another unhealthy message of FOMO -
  10. soccerislife

    soccerislife Active Member

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    On that note, here is the new u14 camp

    https://www.soccerwire.com/news/clu...nal-team-kicks-off-training-camp-in-colorado/

    5 Nor kids who are all very talented. Congratulations!

    I'll let you do the breakdown. Too many players for me :)
  11. MrSmith

    MrSmith Member

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    A list is never too long for me, I love lots of data. =)

    The Colorado U14 Camp with 5 Norcal players...
    Elise Evans (San Jose Earthquakes; Redwood City, Calif.) - DA
    Joelle Jung (MVLA SC; San Jose, Calif.) - ECNL
    Yuna McCormack (San Jose Earthquakes; Mill Valley, Calif.) - DA
    America Frias (San Jose Earthquakes; San Jose, Calif.) - DA
    Allison Montoya (MVLA SC; Los Altos, Calif.) - ECNL

    Also the Carson U15 Camp also with 2 Norcal players...
    Karlie Lema (Orchard Valley, Morgan Hill, Calif.) - ECNL Discovery
    Alexandra Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes, San Jose, Calif.) - DA
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
  12. LivingTheDream

    LivingTheDream Member

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    Yes congrats to all Norcal ballers- wish all best of luck and glad no school is missed
    Would like to see a breakdown and start tracking players invite from DA or ECNL.
    Could be a trend of another layer of “Downside Competive Sports...”
  13. soccerislife

    soccerislife Active Member

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    haha well done.

    Karlie Lema plays for OV but also Discovery for MVLA 03
  14. Youth Sports Fun

    Youth Sports Fun New Member

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    the other note to this is play for MVLA or Quakes :) if you are in NorCal
  15. soccerislife

    soccerislife Active Member

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    Certainly two of the best. Like most clubs, depends who your coach is. If it’s a Deza or a Montoya, you will do well(with some natural ability and high level of commitment of course!) quakes still have more top to bottom but the 04 group at MVLA is special indeed.
  16. footballnut

    footballnut Member

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    Wow, just read this quote from US Soccer's chief medical officer that was in the article shared (emphasis mine):

    U.S. Soccer, the sport’s national governing body, has a different perspective. The organization’s chief medical officer, George Chiampas, told me that findings from an upcoming study that he co-authored, which compared injury rates among boys on teams in its Development Academy, a program set up by U.S. Soccer to cultivate top players, found no difference between those who just played soccer and those who played additional sports. Is it ever too early to specialize? “It depends on the environment,” he said.

    What??? Did he used to work on the NFL medical board that denied the very real problem of CTE from numerous concussions?? Give me a break, that is a complete lie. The evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. OMG, my friend had a so
    That's a good point, I was thinking more along the lines of the "elite" when I said the kids are suffering. I really don't like some of the recent changes US Soccer has made (including age change) because, in my view anyway, they don't make any sense from a player development perspective.
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  17. MrSmith

    MrSmith Member

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    The next version... missed U17 camp... ahead of U17 World Cup (in November in Uruguay)...

    The Colorado U14 Camp with 5 Norcal players...
    Elise Evans (San Jose Earthquakes; Redwood City, Calif.) - DA
    Joelle Jung (MVLA SC; San Jose, Calif.) - ECNL
    Yuna McCormack (San Jose Earthquakes; Mill Valley, Calif.) - DA
    America Frias (San Jose Earthquakes; San Jose, Calif.) - DA
    Allison Montoya (MVLA SC; Los Altos, Calif.) - ECNL

    Also the Carson U15 Camp also with 2 Norcal players (heard this camp is focused on August-December birthdays)
    Karlie Lema (Orchard Valley, Morgan Hill, Calif.) - ECNL Discovery
    Alexandra Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes, San Jose, Calif.) - DA

    The Kansas City, Kansas U17 Camp also with 4 Norcal players...*
    Kellie Pagador (Placer United; Roseville, Calif.),- DA
    Maya Doms (Davis Legacy; Davis, Calif.)- ECNL
    Jadyn Shinn (San Jose Earthquakes; Manteca, Calif.) - DA
    Mia Fontana (San Jose Earthquakes; Burlingame, Calif.) - DA

    * only 10 players who played in U17 World Cup qualification were invited, so this camp gives coaches a chance to see 18 other players in addition to looking more at 10 players who were on the qualifying roster.

    Norcal has 11 players across the 3 camps, really awesome job to all the girls, I know they all work so darn hard (all of them, the ones at the camp and the ones who are practicing this week in the heat of the Bay Area!!!). Kind of crazy to have 6 players in current USNT camps from one club. Congrats to all the girls and all the clubs represented. Great Norcal talent out there.

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