One of the most common responses to the movement for an open, promotion/relegation system in USA soccer is that the nation’s soccer landscape is “not ready yet.” It is natural to look at the extremely unstable USA soccer closed system of today and falsely conclude that there is a lot of preparation work to do before an open system can be implemented, but the “not ready” brigade is looking at the equation completely backwards. Open systems are not a response to closed-system successes, but rather they are a response to closed-system failures (see USA soccer today). The assumption that a closed soccer system is the proving ground for the viability of an open system is just flat out wrong. There is no prerequisite for equal opportunity for all.
All risk with no reward
From a cost-benefit analysis perspective, investors and fans have very little incentive to contribute their time, money, and energy into “making USA soccer ready” for an open system. There is no tangible and realistic return on investment (ROI) opportunity for those contemplating investment into a lower-division soccer economy that is stuck beneath a glass ceiling. If you do well as an individual or club, why does it matter? There is no upward mobility and reward for success. If you win your league (AKA have the best product in the marketplace) you are simply resigned go back and do it all over again the next year. All risk, no upside.
It is absurd to ask people to place a bet when the odds are stacked 100% against them. A few outlier people and clubs are willing to take this sort of plunge in the closed USA soccer lower divisions of today, but we should not expect a majority of constituents to undertake this almost suicidal “sacrifice of love” in order to produce lower-division vibrancy at a larger scale. USA soccer must introduce open-market incentives that reward hard work and excellence, otherwise, the lower divisions of USA soccer will continue to tread water, with most clubs breaking even or sustaining losses, and dozens of clubs collapsing each year. By its very essence and definition, investment – the “readying” of USA soccer that people are calling for – cannot exist without the presence of potential return on investment.
Closed-system victim blaming
The onus is not on the captives to prove that they deserve freedom, nor is it the responsibility of the disenfranchised to earn the right to a fair chance in their particular ecosystem. USA soccer, and sport as a whole, is a real-world industry just like any other. Tangible consequences of jobs, social opportunity, and increased GDP are at stake. It is not right to dismiss sport as “just a game” or mere entertainment. USA soccer’s closed system is economic, social, and sporting discrimination. We cannot blame people for not being able or willing to participate in the USA soccer ecosystem when U.S. Soccer Federation policy rigs the entire system against them in the first place. Stop blaming victims and start blaming the perpetrators, namely, the USSF governing federation that is supposed to be fighting for all constituents in the USA soccer ecosystem.
The fraud of the ever-moving “ready for promotion/relegation” goalposts
What exactly does “ready” for an open USA soccer system look like and who decides it? The “not ready yet” claim is merely a delay tactic put forward by those who oppose an open USA soccer system. Every ten years, there is another declaration saying that USA soccer is ten years away from being able to establish an open system. The goalposts are vague and always moving. USSF, MLS, and open system opposition realizes that they would look like buffoons if they try to explicitly argue against the wild success of open soccer systems all over the world. Since these people have no factual and logical arguments to refute the idea of an open USA soccer system, they resort to disingenuous delay tactics like this in hopes that the rising tide for equality and opportunity in USA soccer will just go away.
In order to have reason to mobilize and invest in the USA soccer lower division marketplace, USA soccer constituents need U.S. Soccer governance to declare an open system start date. Even before the “go-live” date, people and clubs will then have incentive to start building and investing in their clubs, and the lead-up time will provide enough time to ensure a stable start to the open-system era. Until then, while the USSF avoids or vaguely addresses the potential of opening the USA soccer system, it is 100% understandable that investors and fans refuse to invest in, or even completely ignore the lower divisions of USA soccer.
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