UNITED STATES YOUTH SOCCER: THE COSTS, CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
Football, or more precisely, Soccer in the United States, has been on the rise for many years now. Although Americans are not as fond of the beautiful game as the Europeans, it's also a fact that Soccer is making its own space in the American culture. As MLS keeps getting stronger and more popular, youth soccer in America has grown into a Billion-dollar industry. And we're already seeing American talents causing shockwaves in top-notch European clubs. We all know the likes of Christian Pulisic and Sergino Dest, don't we?
While such names may inspire an American kid passionate about Soccer, Youth Soccer in America has its drawbacks and challenges. The cost and affordability are no doubt top of the list. We will be profoundly analyzing the costs of youth soccer in the United States; make sure you stick till the end to know it all!
USYS, or United States Youth Soccer, is the governing body for youth-level football in America. Its numbers are pretty impressive as it has over 10,000 clubs that feature nearly 3 million players; quite remarkable. However, there isn't much to dig into about USYS; now you know its magnitude, let's get to our topic today! Americans do love Soccer, after all.
WHAT MAKES YOUTH SOCCER COSTLY?
The infamous "Pay to Play" system provides the foundation of Youth Soccer in the United States. As the name suggests, families have to pay if their kids want to feature in the USYS club at any rank. Let us break down the costs for you.
If you want your kid to feature in a reasonable and well-reputed club, which ensures the competitive football breakthrough, it might cost thousands of dollars per year; you have to pay more if you want quality. It's simple as that. Most clubs range from around $1000 to $3000 per year.
However, it might be manageable for parents to arrange around 10,000 dollars in fees for their kids' football passion. But the costs don't stop here. There's another factor which makes it quite expensive, which is traveling!
Sometimes, your kid might have to fly hundreds of miles to play one league match or tournament, and all the flight and hotel expenses are on their parents. Considering the hefty club charges and the travel costs, Soccer gets out of the financial range of many parents. Undoubtedly, fees may be driving away families from sports all over in America because the same structure is followed in all other sports, including Basketball, American Football, etc. Traveling expenses can range from around $1000 -5000 per year. The level of the players and the number of kids a parent has in sports must also be considered.
On the other hand, it's also necessary for the kids to keep challenging themselves and play different and better teams to grow as an athlete. It doesn't just come down to travel. Families face more financial challenges, so stick with us lets look at some more?
MORE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES:
The cost of youth soccer also depends on the age group; it might cost less if your kid enrolls under-9s instead of under 13s. It's relative. But the truth is, Parents are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for their kids' soccer dreams.
The cost is always measured according to the value it brings; it would be more adequate if American youth soccer yielded the value which complemented its lucrative fees. After all these expenditures, kids still have to follow the typical American career path, which is moving up the ladder of high school teams and University sports scholarships. That's also one of the reasons America doesn't yield teenager wonder kids as Europe does. The likes of Pedri Gonzalez, Ansu Fati, and Erling Haaland all are creating havoc in competitive football at their mere teen years in Europe's finest leagues. It's usually because they are solely programmed as a footballer in their respective youth clubs, and their results perfectly complement the costs of youth soccer in Europe. Ring any bells?
We could have named dozens of more examples like these, but let's not drift away from the topic. Here are a few more aspects that make it financially suffocating for the parents of soccer kids:
- EQUIPMENT: All parents want their kids to prepare best for anything they want to do; that's where the equipment in soccer kicks in. From soccer boots to the ball itself, it isn't any cheaper these days. If you're going to provide your kid with the best-personalized equipment, you have to spend those saved bucks. This cost range from around $500-1000 per year.
- PAY TO PLAY: Honestly, we're not demonizing the 'Pay to Play' structure of American youth soccer, but there are indeed improvements needed in this aspect, which we will address later in this article. Consequently, the ridiculously high fees of top-notch youth soccer academies become evident for the parents. However, every parent wants the best for their kids. Indeed, less expensive options are available for youth soccer, which might even cost a few hundred dollars rather than thousands. But such opportunities aren't of any use at all. Making it to MLS, let alone European football is impossible if you opt for cheaper options.
USYS: A NAME OF INEQUALITY?
Now you know the expenses in a detailed manner. We've covered everything from club charges to travel costs and the structural costs of USYS. It raises an earnest question, how can this beautiful game grow in such a structural mix? This system only serves a few privileged groups of the society who can afford to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their kids' soccer careers.
But what about kids like Dani Alves? Or Lionel Messi? Or even Cristiano Ronaldo? We all know these are the divine names of Soccer. But all of them have one thing in common. They all belonged to massively low-income families. But guess what? They didn't have to go through an uncanny system like USYS, which only serves high-income earners, sure they did their part of the hard work, but these legends rose through a scheme that appreciated their talent more than their financial standings.
It gets a bit sad if we think just how many kids like Cristiano Ronaldo or Andres Iniesta might be there in the United States, who are gifted with the magic of Soccer by nature but can't make it to the top, all thanks to the system!
There are always solutions, and indeed, we will provide some below!
You have made it here. It will be an injustice if we don't provide possible solutions for all the above problems. Here are a few solutions quickly and concisely:
- There should be a talent evaluation system in USYS, which recruits and scouts potential talents all around America, irrespective of their financial standings; this will ensure the next Lionel Messi or Diego Maradona doesn't go unnoticed.
- Travel costs must be cut down by reducing the travel itself, and kids shouldn't be traveling far away for one mere league game several times a year. It's understandable for national-level tournaments, though.
- As we mentioned before, you can't eliminate the Pay to Play system because the clubs have to cover their costs to survive, but immediate changes are needed in the system. US government should aid the USYS so the club charges can be reduced, lifting off the financial burdens from parents.
THE BEAUTIFUL GAME IS FOR EVERYONE:
Soccer isn't the rich kids' game. Sadly, it's on its way to being. But this game is much more than a few structural issues. It brings people closer, eliminates cultural boundaries, and unites nations, all for the love of the beautiful game.
Keeping its importance in view, Soccer must be made available to people from all walks of life. From white to black, from rich to poor, Soccer is for everyone. Sadly, the modern ways of the game rely much more on the money than the joy itself, but it isn't something that can't be cured. The soccer world needs more fairytales and myths like Pele and Maradona or Johan Cruyff and Van Basten. They weren't rich or poor; they were just players!
That brings us to the end of today's article. We appreciate you making it to the end. Now we leave it to you, spread the word, share this with your friends and family so we can start loving the beautiful game, so the remedies can be made to make Soccer available for every kid who aspires to reach the highest heights of the beautiful game.
Stay tuned for more. See you soon with the next one!