The Problem with Pay-To-Play


Gabriella Diaz-Archilla

The benefits that children receive from participating in youth sports are obvious, from learning critical social skills to the beauty of both failure and success. So why are there less children participating in these activities everyday? The-pay-to-play system is to blame.

Youth club soccer is one of the most prominent areas where pay to play is seen. The average pricing for a year of club soccer in America can range anywhere from $1,000 to over $10,000, per person, depending on the level of play. Families in the system usually have no problem paying these outrageous fees for their children to continue to play the sport they love. Many can additionally provide their children with private training, meal plans, and personal connections that can give them starting positions on high school, club, and college squads. Because these players take up the majority of these rosters, there are fewer spots for those who are not as fortunate.

The diversity of club soccer is dwindling, while the prices continue to rise. Lower and middle class families are less likely to sign up for soccer and choose another sport due to the costs. In other countries, some of the greatest soccer players have come from low income communities, so why are we not seeing more coming from these areas in the United States?

As the United States has not truly adopted this system of recruitment for soccer, a great majority of young talent goes unnoticed and untouched. Little assistance is given to these players, limiting them to rundown facilities, second-hand uniforms and equipment, and minimal amounts of training, games, and coaching expertise. As a result, they are given less opportunities to be seen by recruiters. If U.S. Youth Soccer was to provide more assistance to players in need, expand scouting routes, and create easier paths to high levels of play, talent at all levels of play would be sure to increase.

Although often overlooked, the Pay-to-Play system is a rampant problem and deserves more attention. People are not being given a fair opportunity to succeed, if when they try to start participating in the sport, they already have road blocks. I believe that youth soccer should cost less to allow for the sport and its benefits to reach more people and allow them to take it as far as they can whether that be high school, college, or even professional levels.