Promotion/relegation is now the number one topic in USA soccer outside of the regular news cycle of current men’s and women’s national team fixtures. How will an open USA soccer system become a reality? It will happen when enough common people unite their voices on the issue and surpass the requisite tipping point of public pressure. When the volume on the issue is loud enough, authorities with the power to force the change, whether that be FIFA, the U.S. government, or U.S. Soccer Federation itself, will have no choice but to react accordance to the voice of the people. The immediate goal for the promotion/relegation movement is to create a critical mass of education and awareness among USA’s 330 million people, and more specifically, the estimated 30-60 million soccer fan segment within. There are two main reasons why the average USA soccer fan should get behind the promotion/relegation USA Soccer movement: It will create better American soccer players and clubs, and it will leverage USA soccer to do a ton of social and economic good for the people of America.
1. Increased soccer quality and popularity
First, it will increase and better consolidate popularity for the sport while also serving to develop better players, clubs, and national team talent pool. Second, and more importantly, an open system drives interest and investment at all levels of the game. From the powerhouse clubs in division 1, all the way down to the amateur sides in division 12, everyone has incentive to pour time, effort and resources into their club in order to achieve the next step in excellence.
2. Creating socioeconomic good
As outlined in this piece by Mehdi Manseur, open systems are a tremendous way to increase social mobility and economic prosperity. What’s more American than equality and opportunity?
Creating an open sports system for America would result in national and regional economic growth heretofore unforeseen and untapped, increased competition and resulting benefits to consumers, increased economic empowerment to minority communities, diversity of ownership of professional teams, the alleviation of the inequities of the NCAA and greatly benefit public finances.
American soccer is at a crossroads. It can choose to keep banging its head against the wall of mediocrity via the same old closed-system, or it can observe the wild success of open system soccer around the world and align the American ecosystem accordingly. This current U.S. Soccer Federation is now merely a proxy federation for the business interests of one private company: MLS. We need to get it out of our heads that the current status quo leadership truly has the best interest of American soccer at heart. They do not.
It is up to common USA soccer fans to make true system reform happen in American soccer. Silence is compliance, and the tired, discriminatory status quo will keep rolling along if no one decides to speak up in opposition.
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