Pay-to-play sports has always been a hot topic of soccer conversation in the United States, but has intensified the last few months following the USMNT’s loss in World Cup qualifying. I think we all can agree that the problem is obvious but implementing a solution is not so easy to agree on. Youth sports already has it’s fair share of other problems like financial abuse and fraud. If that hasn’t been solved for yet, what can be done about pay-to-play sports? FC Link looks forward to the upcoming US Soccer Presidential race and how each candidate approaches this issue.

That all said, here is an excerpt of a good article from the Atlantic regarding pay-to-play sports and income disparity. Be sure to hit the link at the bottom of the page and read the whole article.

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“Concern about the kids’ sports frenzy often fixates on the costs to children who do too much: the burnout and physical exhaustion, the bodies battered from overuse, the loss of unscheduled free time. But the children who are excluded from that frenzy, most of them from lower-income families, suffer more enduring losses. These children miss out on the scads of positive outcomes that are linked to regular exercise, including longer life expectancies, improved mental and physical health, and better grades in school. As important, they are denied lessons in discipline, teamwork, and resilience—the very qualities that most parents want for their children—which are often taught in athletics. And despite the well-documented advantages of athletics participation, it’s unclear whether the loose coalition of businesses, community organizations, and nonprofits that are working to ensure all children have access to sports have the resources or clout to make it happen.

Lots of factors keep lower-income children from being active. Some sports, like ice hockey, swimming, and golf, require costly facilities just to play. And while sports such as basketball and track might be open to all in theory, parks in low-income areas tend to lack organized activities for kids, which are correlated to park use.

Also pushing poorer kids out is the professionalization of kids’ sports: Time reports that the business of kids’ sports has grown 55 percent since 2010, and is now a $15.3 billion industry. Driving that growth is the perception that a child’s athletic achievement might improve her college prospects, lead to an athletic scholarship, and lend some prestige to the family name. Well-off-enough parents invest in specialized camps, leagues, equipment, and travel teams, while children from families without the financial resources or time—competitive kids’ games are often played across state lines, devouring weekends for parents as well as players—fill out dwindling town leagues. On top of these factors, schools with shrinking budgets are dropping physical education or requiring kids to pay for their school teams. Seventy percent of kids leave sports entirely by age 13.”

Source: The Atlantic

P.S. I’ve also picked up the book Until It Hurts: America’s Obsession with Youth Sports and How It Harms Our Kids by Mark Hyman, an assistant teaching professor at the George Washington School of Business. Hope to gain more insight into the subject come the February election.