Pay to Play and the Parent’s Role Pay to play is the “black eye” of American youth soccer. With this system in place for the competitive programs we are losing ground with the youth throughout the world. (Then again, we were never quite up to their level to begin with.) Our system excludes so many inner city players of all ages from playing in the “competitive” programs. I’ve seen so many programs in Southern California excluding these kids yearly. Yes some of the “clubs” have the parents “work” off their fees. Unfortunately many of these talented kids have parent(s) working two jobs throughout the week and weekend which prohibits their opportunity to work these fees off. So my question to everyone as parents is what exactly are you paying for?
I fully expect the “recreational” and competitive side to charge those normal fees to cover the costs of equipment, insurance and fees that are associated with various organizations. I have no problem with that. However, I do have a problem with fees that begin to approach $1500 to $5000 for a season of play. Parents, 10 percent of the children in this country are attending private schools in the K-12 ages. Obviously they are paying good monies for, hopefully, a good education. I would hope that the private school has available a full curriculum for each grade level and it is available to all parents upon request. Why do I bring this point up? Simply because if you have to pay for your child to play competitive soccer I would hope that you would be able to approach the club’s organizers for the curriculum being used by this program. I’m serious! How many of you have taken a look at you investment in your child’s sport EDUCATION? How many parents have asked either their child’s coach or Director of Coaching what is the curriculum being used from the youngest to the oldest ages in you club? I’ll bet that less than 1 percent of you have. In fact, I’ll even say that less than that are playing in a program that can provide you with this information.
So, again, where are your monies going? Are the monies going for salaries of the coaches and the coaching director? Are your monies going for salaries of board members? Are the monies going to educate your child? I’ve asked many parents here what the high salaried Director of Coaching has done for your child. That’s the same question I would asked your child’s school teacher and Principal. Unlike the child’s school not one parent has told me what the Director of Coaching has done for their child and yet your money is going to that person. Then again I did have one parent over the years tell me that the Director has done absolutely nothing for his child. What’s wrong with this picture? If we have to have pay to play then, to me, we should treat this as a private school! That is, there has to be a curriculum based program with every age being performance based and evaluated on a daily basis. There has to be a training program within the club structure that assures that all coaches implement this curriculum. There has to be the ability to see the child’s weekly evaluation, or monthly at best, by the parents. There also has to be weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly evaluations of the coaches. Folks, don’t ignore this element! Private and public schools do this and there is no reason that you, as parents who are writing the check, shouldn’t demand this also.
I can hear the uproar already. That takes too much time to do. Sorry folks, you’re getting paid. To me you are a professional. Parents you are letting programs literally “steal” your money if you don’t insist on this. If you don’t stress this then I ask the question again: What are you paying for? I’ll tell you what a good percentage are using their monies for--leverage! Leverage with the coach to play their son more. Leverage to manipulate the coach to play their child in a position that they think is best suited for them. Leverage, to get rid of their child’s coach because he fails to listen to your demands. Guys, actually in a crazy way, I support this. Why not? It makes as much sense to me since you don’t treat this as a good educational investment. Parents, get real! Use your leverage in a positive manner. Use it to implement a “private school” attitude. Use your leverage to assure that the child that cannot afford to be in that “private soccer school” is afforded that opportunity. Use the checkbook to make the “school” the best it can be for all students and all those involved. For me I’m still waiting for just one program in this country to come forward and show me their curriculum based program. Folks I know it can be done. In fact it has been done here in San Diego and now in various clubs in Europe. The cost of the program for the kids in San Diego you ask. ZERO!