Power of Voice and Exit in soccer

We have two powers at our disposal.

  1. The power of voice — If we don’t like something, we can try to convince the powers that be to change it.
  2. The power of exit — If we don’t like something, we can try alternative — often a competitor or substitute.

Having both is important.

If there was just one beer maker, we’d just have the power of voice in the beer market. The chances of getting the beer we wanted would be low.

Thankfully, we have many beer makers that make many different beers — so we have both the powers of voice and exit and a much improved chance of getting beers we like.

In fact, we have so many beer options that we don’t need to exercise our power of voice to convince a beer maker to make the beer we like.

We simply exercise our power of exit. If we don’t like a beer, we choose another. If enough of us do that, it rewards the beer makers who make what we like and punishes the ones who don’t. The latter either changes or goes away.

An election for the president of US Soccer will be held in February (2018).

One group of soccer fans would like to see a pro league structure that includes promotion/relegation, among other changes. So far, their power of voice has been ignored by US Soccer officials.

Promotion/relegation (“pro/rel,” for short) is where the bottom 2-3 teams in the top league (in this case, the MLS) each year would be relegated to a lower league, while the top 2-3 teams in the lower league would be promoted to the top league, hence ‘pro/rel’.

The current US Soccer administration is against it for various reasons. One reason is they think it would make it tough to attract investors in teams if there was a risk of losing their ‘major league’ status.

The “pro/rel” folks are now trying to use their power of voice to influence who wins the election for US Soccer president. They want a president that supports their ideas.

Unfortunately, the power of voice is muted without the power of exit. It sometimes works. But that’s not the norm because getting enough people to agree on something is difficult enough without politics and corruption. Even more so with it.

With US Soccer having a big say over how soccer is done in the U.S., the power of exit is limited. But, the power of exit is more effective way to get what we want.

Basic question…why does US Soccer have so much say over how soccer is done in the U.S.?

I could be wrong, but I think it’s because FIFA (which organizes international football competitions) recognizes just one soccer federation per country and so US Soccer has a monopoly on dollars from international competitions sanctioned by FIFA.

That makes it difficult for other soccer associations to emerge to compete with US Soccer.

I will add that soccer federations in other countries seem to view their role in soccer a little different than U.S. Soccer. More on that in the next post.

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