Wednesday, April 18, 2018

How did I get here?

Four and a half years ago I was just coaching a u8 girls team. I was only doing this because the original coach quit... I never wanted to coach my own child. I hated dad coaches as a kid. I didn't want to do this to any kid, especially mine. Have them hate playing for a team because of me. That said, I've never been one to not give my all when I do something. Especially when I'm dealing with other peoples children. My thinking is, these people have entrusted me with their children so I owe it to them to give it my all. I try to learn everything I can. I start my coaching education via Youtube, classes, clinics, asking questions, watching every coach I can watch, USSF courses, and whatever else I can do to try to learn and get better. 

It's fun, I love coaching.

I start putting on these free skills clinics every week for whatever players want to show up because of the sheer cost of doing private trainings with coaches at the local pay to play club. A few kids show up at first. After a while I'm getting a nice group of 15 to 20 kids a week.

The players on this team start to get better. We start entering our little neighborhood team made up of whatever girls show up in some tournaments. We try to play nice soccer. It takes a while but we end up beating a bunch of teams who pay quite a bit per player. Hearing parents yell at coaches across the field "We pay all this money to get beat by a REC TEAM????"

I'm not going to lie. It felt great.

The players who consistently show up at the skills clinics start to get pretty decent. They show that they want to work. I try to show them HOW to train at home. One kid with one ball for an hour. Jon Townsend had written this amazing 10,000 touches article and I did my best to put it in motion every week for these kids.

A local pay to play club offers me a coaching job if I bring my team over to them. I say thanks but no thanks. I think readers of this blog kind of understand I'm just not on board with the system as it is set up. I felt like I would have been betraying my morals if I would have gone.

While this is happening I get recruited by a different neighborhood club to become their new President.

Thing is... its MY neighborhoods club. When I was a child playing soccer, West Side Soccer Club played at a place called Cabell Field. This space was turned in to a new consolidated elementary named Mary C. Snow a few years back so I kind of thought the club went away. Little did I know the city had built a couple of u12 sized fields at a park on top of a hill on the West Side. We had been driving our kids a few miles out of the way just because the club had shrunk to a point where I didn't even know it existed any more.

When I took over the club only had 13 registered players.

We recruit the city. We grow to 50... then 75.... now 130 players. Our club looks like our community. The West Side and the East End of Charleston are two of the most economically disadvantaged communities in the largest city in the poorest state in the country. That is where we draw kids from. It is also the most diverse area of the state. We raise money to help offset the costs. We do ball and equipment drives to get some kids the stuff they need to play. We have a couple of AWESOME donors who pay for some kids registration fees.

We are the only "Recreational" club in the state to place kids in the WV ODP program. We had 3 over the last 2 years.

We still do our free skills clinics every week just now at our fields. Some weeks we now have 50+ kids. Just this past week we started a partnership with the D2 National Championship University of Charleston's Men's Soccer program where they send a couple players every week to help us do the skills clinics.

Almost three years ago I got together a few donations and a few volunteers and we converted a basketball court downtown in to a Futsal Court. We built a partnership with the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department to allow us to have a gym for free all winter at the Martin Luther King Center. We do a free weekly Futsal meetup/pick up games event every Friday (#FutsalFriday) and have built a nice following. 30 to 40 people a week.

We host multiple coaching clinics per year.

We hosted a USSF licensing course.

We implemented a coaching mentorship program for our volunteer coaches.

We host free cookouts after several game weekends where all of our teams play at home at the same time to help build our community through sport.

We are 100% going to offer EVERYTHING we can for these kids. They deserve it just as much as any kids anywhere. Just because they aren't "Travel" or "Select" or whatever you think they don't work hard? You think they don't want it? They don't want to get good?


As a club president I'm on the KVSL (our league we play in) Board of Directors. I rabble rouse. I get super pissed quite often.

I bitch to my wife, my brother, my parents, my friends.

Change happens. Contrary to what many people think these people who I am mad at aren't bad people. They just know how things work now. They often times don't see a reason to change it. Why change it? It's working. Kids are playing soccer!

I have a different vision I am trying to get in place. Funny thing that happens is... once they see I'm just passionate and not just an asshole there to complain about things they join in. Other clubs start doing some of the same things we do. Skills clinics. Coaching Ed.

These things work. People see the change. Some go beyond what we even do! Those things work.

I keep working. I have to deal with the WVSA on a few occasions. I'm pretty sure they had the same initial reaction that KVSL had to me. Shit.... dude. Thing's are working... why are you trying to rock the boat?

I start trying to make some changes in Adult Soccer in WV. I go to the USYSA Regionals. I get introduced to the WVSA staff.

I go to a WVSA Board Meeting.

I just start showing up.

I don't stop.

I get added to a committee for a state adult soccer club league. 

Next thing you know the VP of Adult Soccer can't go to the USSF Convention.

I get asked to go in his place.

I go. I vote for Wynalda.

I run for a youth position on the WVSA Board.

I win.

It's just started for me. Trust me. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going to stop trying to change the system for the better.

I'm sure you're asking why all this matters? It is pretty simple. What I would love to see is for you to go get involved. Don't let anybody tell you no thanks. Keep showing up. Be committed. If you want to see change... go make change happen. Literally 1000's of people from all over this country read these blog posts. I'm sure many of you think you are powerless to actually help make change within the system. YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS!

We need every state associations Board of Directors to have new blood ready to make change. We need every club's Board of Directors to have new blood ready to make change. We need every league... every everything that has anything to do with this sport in this country to be infused with new blood that is ready and willing to FIGHT FOR CHANGE.

Four and a half years ago I was coaching my first practice with a u8 team. I didn't have a plan... a few months ago I voted for USSF President.

What can you be doing four and a half years from now if you have a plan?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Hey soccer media can we see the 990 from CA2016?

With Sunil Gulati being removed as Bid Committee Chairman today and Carlos Cordiero taking 1/3rd of his place... I was reminded of some questions that I would LOVE to have answered concerning former USSF President Gulati and current President Carlos Cordiero's potential involvement in a company owned and operated by USSF. (this should have said CA2016 Local Organizing Committee LLC)

We know CA LOC2016 paid the $50M from the USSF 990 that they filed...

Then this website says that this company makes between 100M and 500M in revenue.

Hopefully we can have some follow up questions from the US soccer media to find some answers out about this company as well.

There is plenty to find out... from what we've seen about the USSF relationship with SUM that has already been uncovered, I think it is safe to say that many people would find this relationship an interesting subject as well.

Who is involved?
How much were they paid?
What does the SUM contract look like?
Who negotiated it?
Who approved it?
Does the USSF board have oversight concerning this subsidiary corporation?
Who all is employed by this corporation?
Why was this corporation used to negotiate and administer this Copa America deal?

I'm sure you can come up with some more questions... 

Speak up on social media and use the #ReformUSSF and #ProRelForUSA hashtags when talking to your favorite soccer media members about your desire to read more about the subject.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

USSF strategic plan.

Yesterday I participated in the WVSA AGM and it was pretty much what was expected... a group of people who really care about soccer at the local level meeting up and doing what they think is best for soccer in the state.

Something I have been thinking about all day today though is the fact that the WVSA operates in a vacuum. The state association has little to no direction from the USSF.

I have never seen a USSF strategic plan, I have never heard any discussion about one, and the state associations never discuss how what they are doing works to accomplish the stated goals of the USSF strategic plan.

A strategic plan at the top would focus the energy, resources, and time of everyone in the organization at every level in the same direction. It also would add accountability...

How do we know if we are doing a good job? How can we all have a discussion as a soccer nation on the direction we are heading if we don't have goals? How can we judge if the boards of the USSF and our state associations are doing a good job if we aren't working toward any overarching strategic goals?

A public strategic plan would also allow a discussion about where do we actually want to end up?

Write it down.

Let everybody talk about it.

Let us figure out if we agree with it or not.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Now that we have a copy of the 1988 USSF #ProRelForUSA plan... whats next?

Earlier today Michael Lewis released an article that described the 1988 plan that WAS PASSED by the USSF to create a pyramid featuring 3 tiers, 2 of which were regional, and #ProRelForUSA.

As I've discussed on Twitter quite extensively, I've heard from someone who has read it the original MLS business plan as proposed and accepted by USSF was said to contain provisions for eventual implementation of #ProRelForUSA. My guess is that these provisions were included only 2 years later because of this 1988 plan. Basically, USSF has a plan that was passed by the entire voting body so MLS business plan developers must include #ProRelForUSA to be, for lack of a better term, "legal". If this Pro/Rel provision wouldn't have been included... would it have ever been accepted?

So, in my opinion there are a few things that absolutely need to be addressed at this point.

1. If this was passed by the USSF... and never officially rescinded ... it seems that it still needs to be implemented. Is this true?

2. We now also need a copy of the original MLS business plan that was accepted by USSF for confirmation of what was indeed agreed upon by the Federation and the investors.

3. IF MLS has not lived up to its originally accepted business plan principals ... and this #ProRelForUSA plan has not ever been voted away... it would seem that Board Members, senior staff members, etc. that know about them... are not living up to their duty to USSF's constituency. What needs to happen to them?

4. As a current Board Member, Senior Staff, Legal Counsel, etc... if you are just finding out about this piece of information (and the potential business plan stipulations) ... it is your duty to find out about all of this information and talk to the highly paid legal council within USSF and figure out what to do next.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section or on social media. Keep speaking up!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Inclusion in American Soccer

As my followers on Twitter know by now I attended the USSF AGM as a voting representative from the great state of West Virginia. One of my first observations from the floor was of the make up of the over 500 voters. I tweeted out this rather tame take on it...

I had to block around 20 people just for tweeting out the fact that the #USSF electorate was not representative of the US population concerning racial diversity.

What kind of person are you and what kind of world do you live in that just the IDEA that a body such as USSF should represent us... all of us... is a threat to your identity and existence?

There are lot of fights still to come for the soul of American soccer... some my presence may never have an effect on but, I can tell this you right now.

I will never stop fighting for inclusion.

I will never stop trying to do the right thing.

I call on you now to stand up for soccer and make every effort to include all communities in the game. There is a difference between being "non-exclusionary" and being "purposely inclusive".  Currently many organizations are operating at the minimum standard level of " we don't exclude anybody from participating". While better than nothing, we all need to make better efforts to reach out to communities that are not currently participating, find out why, and then make every effort to include them.

This is across the board for players, referees, coaches, administrators, and fans.

Soccer in America needs new voices. Change is not going to happen without them.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

SUM revenue guarantee for USSF

We keep hearing over and over again from the establishment (Gulati, Garber, Cordeiro and Carter) that the $30M per year guarantee that Soccer United Marketing (SUM) gives USSF is a great deal for the Federation.

Is it though?

It is very easy to look at that number and think of the stability that it provides the federation, the great things that $30M could do for soccer in this country and believe them.

Being from West Virginia I follow WVU quite closely. A few years back there was a lawsuit over the 3rd Tier broadcast rights and the bidding for them. I, just like thousands of other Mountaineer fans, followed along very closely and probably learned more about 3rd Tier broadcast rights than we really ever needed to. From following along closely to that saga, and knowing how much the University makes from a relatively small amount of media rights, I've always felt that the USSF National Team media rights deal was SEVERELY under performing.

WVU's 3rd Tier contract with IMG is for $9.1M per year for these media properties.

• Television rights to one football game per season and a handful of men’s basketball games that are picked over by the major networks
• Complete radio broadcast rights

• Coaches’ shows produced for television, radio and web streaming 

• Television rights to all other WVU sports (the ones lovingly categorized as non-revenue).
 • Rights to sell advertising signage and sponsorships

• Online content.

So... West Virginia has 1.8M people in it. An obviously small market. A total market that might not even put it at the top of the list if every resident was in one city and Jim Justice was trying to drop $150M to bring MLS to town.

One football game, a handful of basketball games, some coaches shows, radio broadcasts across the state,  in stadium ads, and the website are worth $9,100,000 per year... these properties are normally being broadcast locally in state or on a regional sports network at the maximum.

The USMNT and USWNT both play between 15 and 20 games per year to national audiences. The USYNT's play quite a few games. They also offer the same opportunities for all the other media, signage, coaches shows, etc. (and does the SUM deal give up ticketing for the national teams?).

So for basically... 600% to 800% (if not more) of full national team NATIONAL broadcast inventory...

That regularly draw ratings larger than the entire population of the state of West Virginia...

SUM is only paying $30M, which is roughly 330% of the money...

This seems like a HUGE under delivery of media rights money in today's marketplace to the Federation.

By allowing SUM to not have to bid on these media rights deals USSF is missing out on how many 10's of millions, if not HUNDREDS of millions of dollars? We absolutely can not continue to let the fox in to the hen house. We need change at the top. We need a new media rights deal. We need to rid ourselves of the conflicts of interest that have led us to this situation.

Please vote for change in this election. Do what is right for soccer in this country.

Do not let Kathy Carter win. Do not let Carlos Cordeiro win.