This 3Four3 podcast with Jordan Ferrell as guest is a good listen and includes some key reasons why soccer languishes in the U.S.
One of those reasons is found just past the 38 minute mark and comes just after host, John Pranjic, describes his visit to a sports club in Europe where sports fields surround an athletic club where parents can do spin classes, lift weights or play basketball or grab a bite or drink at the club’s restaurant while their kids are at soccer training.
It felt like a community. It felt like those people had ownership in the club. That’s something we could replicate in the United States, and nobody’s doing it.
Ferrell adds on (emphasis mine):
…honestly, we’ve just moved the sport club into the academic world and that’s killed it because once you finish from an institution, you’re an alum, and alum move in different places and the ones from the community who aren’t alum aren’t as invested.
I described how the fragmentation of school sports hurts the soccer culture in the U.S. in this post. Here’s a snippet:
In the Netherlands, the youth teams in their clubs play on Saturdays and the adult teams play on Sundays. The youth players often attend the adult games. They know the adults because they practice near them and are coached by them, so they want to see how they do.
In the U.S., clubs and school sports fragments this experience. Eight-year-old’s in the U.S. aren’t coached by 15-year-old’s who play for the high school team and they aren’t interested in watching the high school games to be like them someday, because they don’t know them.
In the U.S., the players’ bubble is their individual team, or maybe the club’s top team at their age level, not a senior team.
So, high achievers are content with being ‘best on their team’ and not having a good role model to demonstrate what a complete player looks like.
I’d add that in the Netherlands the player’s bubble is the adult senior team. Rather than being content to beat players of their own age, they set their sites on how players on the senior teams play.
More in the next post…