Anonymous Mailbag No. 2: Twitter Wars and Youth Soccer Ethics

Welcome to the Urban Pitch Anonymous Mailbag, where we answer your unfiltered questions and replies to our stories or any particular issues and topics in soccer and culture today. 

These past two weeks were pretty interesting. I got into various debates/arguments both online and offline. Online were primarily via my Twitter account which I started using recently. Although I was an early adopter since 2009 I never really used it until now. I figured it would be good to have a more online presence since I’m writing op-ed pieces now, and I promptly got into multiple Twitter arguments with random people.

They mostly involved attacks on my credibility in regards to my knowledge and connections in the soccer world based on my having only six followers. I find it amusing that people use that as a barometer for anything other than what it is … which is your number of followers. Unfortunately I failed in regards to passing that test as I’m one of the rare persons that don’t use social media beyond a LinkedIn profile. But I have been able to more than double my Twitter followers and am now at double digits…so there’s that.

Offline involved some energetic debates with a friend involving our current situation in Los Angeles and California. My position was (and still is) that Mayor Eric Garcetti and Governor Gavin Newsom have both been disastrous in their leadership, whereas my friend put the blame squarely on the shoulders of President Trump. My main point was that these are local and state policies and not federal orders coming from the president. One can easily see that there are states which are wide open and still doing a much better job managing COVID due to strong leaders like Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

There isn’t a single entrepreneur or business owner in California (except for Big Tech and large retail chains who have actually prospered through these laws) who hasn’t considered or is thinking of leaving this state. I know I have. Only a business owner who has put their livelihood on the line can truly understand the appalling acts of politicians who have stolen our basic rights to earn a living.

As we approach the new year, I hope that more people wake up to what is really happening in our country and stand up for our basic rights. I know many people are suffering, so let’s try to have compassion for others and look beyond our own circumstances.

As always, you can send any questions or comments on any topic with your anonymity guaranteed to: [email protected].

Here is the latest Anonymous Mailbag:

Re: “Pay-to-Play is Good for Soccer and the Harshest Critics are Hypocrites”

Interesting article. I agree with the fact that [pay-to-play] is mischaracterized. We do live in a country that provides several more opportunities to play at different levels, when compared with other countries, especially South America, where I come from. In order to play free in Argentina, you must be good to play in a professional youth club academy, or you have to play with your friends.

I am a soccer coach, and this is what I do for a living. The free market economy allows me and many coaches/clubs like me, to have a good living in exchange of soccer or sport education service.

This also, in many cases, pushes coaches to educate even further, for the level of competitiveness that the market might produce, or because people invest in education in order to provide a more qualitative business.

Having said this, I hope my position is clear that paying to play is not necessarily something detrimental to the sport.

What might be detrimental is the ethic behind the business. Sometimes, this ethic’s main objective is to produce and to be lucrative. It produces strategies not with the goal to improve the game or the well-being of the individual through the game, but the revenues that the sport/game produces. This logic escapes what youth sport should foster in an individual, and it might create controversy for the game lovers or those that are well informed about other possibilities. We criticize the pay-to-play model because we think the model is the problem, but it might be the ethic of some people in the model what creates resentment and doubts about the model.

Identifying youth sport as a business, before understanding or clearly defining what type of business it is, could mislead values.  Soccer, as any other youth sport, is a formative and developmental business, so the revenues should come as a consequence of this, and nothing else.

People that are involved in youth sports are involved in forming communities, which should foster and improve our kids and people, and in this case, the love, attachment, and quality of soccer. — Youth Club Coach

I’m glad to hear the thoughts from a well-established youth soccer coach who also comes from South America and can fairly compare the two systems. I think many people who have a negative opinion on pay-to-play aren’t truly looking carefully at the situation and instead are looking for someone or something to blame.

I do appreciate your position that there are problems with the ethics behind the business of youth soccer in America. I think that if it is being promoted as a charitable business, specifically as a non-profit, the legal standards and ethics become a huge part of the measuring standard. I discuss this exact case in my article, “The Hidden, Ugly Side of Youth Soccer, Part 2: Nightmare Parents, Feeble Leadership, and Dirty Politics.”

However, if it is simply a for-profit business, then I don’t think ethics plays as a big of a role. In a free market economy, the bad businesses will usually suffer the consequences of the public who will choose to spend their money elsewhere.

Re: “The Ugly, Hidden Side of Youth Soccer, Part 1: Bad Coaching, Wanton Poaching, and Jaw-Dropping Embezzlement”

This is on point. I myself was a “team manager” for my son’s 2011 squad and little did they know I had it all on my excel sheet on what and where the money was going and the shadiness of the the president. I removed myself and son immediately. The $70K the team mom took does not surprise me one bit. — Soccer Dad from Los Angeles

It’s very unfortunate that people will steal and embezzle funds from organizations that are aimed at promoting youth soccer. I think it’s much more common than what most people realize and also most “charitable organizations” would struggle to follow the letter of the law. I’m glad you took your son out of that club and hopefully you found an ethical one.

Thanks for reading Urban Pitch’s anonymous mailbag. Send your comments and questions with anonymity guaranteed to: [email protected].

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