If you’ve spent any time on the sidelines of a competitive kids’ sports game, you may have witnessed one of the uglier sides of parental love. Competition can bring out the best and the worst in people, and parents are, after all, people. Parents with kids on club soccer teams in Massachusetts are no exception. In fact, they may be worse. There are entire Internet forums devoted to the rantings of club soccer parents. To the uninitiated, this may seem ridiculous. It may even seem ridiculous to some in the know. So what is it about club soccer teams that’s getting these parents so riled up?
Many of these kids started out playing recreational soccer in their home towns. They quickly grew to love the sport, even became passionate about it. And they were good. Their parents recognized the level of interest and ability, and decided to help their prodigy navigate the path through development. So they looked around at club soccer teams, picked one, and started driving all over the state and beyond to practices, games, and tournaments. As their player got better and better, the stakes got higher and higher.
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In order to reach their full potential, kids have to be well-coached. They have to be provided with the highest level of competition. They have to have the best gear. All of this costs money, and lots of it. Before long, between the club fees, the in-state and out-of-state travel, and the clothes and equipment, these families are spending several thousand dollars each year. Are you beginning to see how the parents can get so invested in their kids’ club soccer teams?
To justify this arguably outrageous expenditure, many parents and kids dream of college scholarship money. In fact, some of these dreams are fueled by club coaches trying to entice the best players to play for their teams. This is where it can get really intense. The reality is that college scholarship money, especially big money, is extremely hard to come by, but that’s the goal of a lot of these kids and parents when they’re playing with club soccer teams.
So the next time you run into one of those soccer moms in the line at the grocery store or waiting to pick the kids up from school, and she starts going on about some coach, or some ref, or some opposing team, or the price of some hotel, or the 2 hour drive to practice, or the weather, cut her a little slack. She’s got a lot on her plate. She and her family made a choice. Of all the models available with Massachusetts Youth Soccer, they chose club soccer.
They chose to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on their child’s soccer game. There’s little doubt they get the best coaching, the best competition, and the best exposure in the state and quite possibly the country. But is it worth it? That’s a very personal question that every family needs to answer for themselves. If the goal is a college scholarship or professional career, the answer might very well turn out to be no.
The parents, like the lady at the store, might find themselves resenting the whole process and many of the little annoyances along the way. If the goal is having a child doing what they love and thriving in an environment of commitment and excellence, the answer may be a resounding “yes”.