Friday, October 13, 2017

Divorcing Pay-to-Play from the Pro game

Quite often since the #USMNT World Cup Qualifier debacle that was the Trinidad and Tabago game we have been blessed to finally see writers stepping up and questioning our youth development system in the US. Unfortunately, too often these discussions are being had while divorcing Pay-to-Play from the Professional game.


Make them answer these questions when they try to divorce the two items from each other and act like they are separate issues.

1. How do you stop youth clubs from charging?
2. How much money would this take?
3. Who decides which clubs would get USSF support?
4. Do they all get equal funding?
5. How would you stop youth clubs from leaving USSF and its subordinate youth soccer organizations and just charging anyways?
6. How would youth clubs fund a non-USSF subsidized free-to-play model?

I'm sure you can come up with even more to ask...

With youth soccer being a multi-billion dollar industry it would be impossible for US Soccer to fund the game as it is currently structured to give all young players, or even most of them, access to some sort of USSF subsidized system.

Saying "End Pay-to-Play" without talking about what caused this system to develop is ridiculous.

Saying "End Pay-to-Play" without talking about how opening the pyramid changes the incentives clubs have to produce players is ridiculous.

As Gary Kleiban so succinctly puts it HERE...

If we had an open pyramid like the rest of the world, where clubs can merit their way up and down the soccer hierarchy, that shifts the incentives and alters the ‘pay-to-play’ club soccer business model. 
That bursts open the 3 revenue generating incentives outlined above for thousands of existing youth clubs, and all of our lower division pro and semi-pro clubs. 
What pro/rel can do is give existing youth clubs an incentive to form their own 1st teams, and aspire to something beyond their perpetual caste as ’youth club’. If even a small fraction of the thousands of clubs in our country did this, that significantly expands the ‘free-to-play’ incentive footprint in our country.
Similarly, what pro/rel can do is give existing lower division clubs (e.g. in NASL, USL, NPSL) the incentive to form their own ‘free-to-play’, or heavily subsidized, youth academies.
With the closed market system (a caste system) we currently have, only one company, MLS, LLC can benefit from its 20 franchises offering free-to-play teams.
We have to give clubs all over the country the incentive to develop players. Right now quantity rules the day, the more kids you have, the more money you make. When QUALITY rules the day, we will see players being developed, coaches being accountable, and clubs making it a priority.

We need #ProRelForUSA if we ever hope to end Pay-to-Play as the dominant model for youth soccer in the US. We need #ProRelForUSA if we ever hope for our best and brightest young players (both boys and girls) to have a pathway to being top level players that isn't full of economic roadblocks.

Keep speaking up... keep the pressure up... and thank you everybody who has shared one of my articles from this blog. We are going to fix this system.

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