Last weekend, Establishment Candidate B was elected as the new US Soccer’s president, much to the chagrin of folks clamoring for change in soccer.
I think he was the Establishment’s 2nd choice because he is slightly more open to change that could introduce more risk for the Establishment than Choice A was, which may be good.
I think folks who want change might want to be careful what they wish for. Being an armchair critic is easy. There’s no cost to you for being wrong.
Not to say that I disagree with some of the armchair critics. But, I’d just caution that things aren’t always as simple as they seem and they might want to consider that they might be wrong.
Many people have thought they’ve had all the answers and then when they find themselves in charge, they fail spectacularly.
Had one of the change candidates won and made the changes they want and those changes didn’t produce immediate results, what would they do?
What if those changes ended up taking soccer back to the 80s and early 90s when soccer was a fringe sport like ultimate frisbee, lacrosse and rugby is in the U.S. now?
They’d just say “Oops”.
Ron Johnson, former CEO of JC Penney, was confident of the changes he wanted to make when he took over. One of those changes was “Everyday Low Prices.”
Sounds great. That price strategy works in Walmart. But, it nearly sunk JC Penney. Sometimes things that work somewhere else, might not work everywhere.
Public choice theory says that with centralized processes, decisions are such that not everyone gets what they want.
US Soccer and school-based sports. Neither has good competition in the in the U.S.
Competition is good.
I don’t know exactly what will or won’t work. Nobody does.
What works isn’t always obvious.
Unfortunately, a centralized decision-making body like US Soccer, doesn’t lend itself to finding what works rapidly, because it has a couple of dynamics working against it to try new stuff.
First, a single organization has limited capacity to try new things.
Second, there’s a tendency to get locked into trying the conventional-sounding things, because trying crazy ideas that fail get people fired quicker than doing conventional things that fail.
Competition solves these two problems.
Competitors can try the crazy things. Many fail. But, every now and then, one succeeds and fundamentally changes things.
Subway was one of many sub sandwich shops that succeeded and ushered in a ‘fast casual’ concepts that were adopted by the likes of Chipotle and Panera.
Waiting for US Soccer to solve the problems you think exists in the U.S. is like waiting for the Federal government to find a job for you. You will never be happy.
Don’t wait for US Soccer to solve the problems you think exists. Look for ways to solve it yourself and prove your concepts out.
I’ll hand it to the guys at 3Four3.com. They are loud critics of US Soccer….BUT, they are also doing exactly what I describe here, trying things and proving their methods out.
They sell coach training, coach youth teams, organize ‘pickup’ soccer activity for youth and host a blog and podcast to help spread their beliefs. They aren’t just sitting back and criticizing.
For US Soccer…I’d encourage adopting more of a decentralized approach to moving the game forward in the U.S.
More on that in later posts.