For my West Coast readers, I want to highlight a couple of events coming up in Southern California.
The first is a housing conference called What Would Howard Do? on August 1st. Howard in this case is Howard Ahmanson Sr, whose Home Savings and Loan provided the financing for most of post-war suburbia in the Bay Area. Joel Kotkin, Johnny Sanphillippo (Strong Towns), and Kristen Jeffers (The Black Urbanist) are among the speakers.
The other is an American Conservative event on cronyism in Anaheim on August 30th. Given the outsized role of Disney there, they nailed the venue and I hope there’s some tough discussion.
Hope Solo, goaltender for that defending Women’s World Cup champion, recently weighed in on the money discussion, saying if she started playing today, her family would never be able to afford to give her the private training and elite-league experience that is an unstated requirement for reaching the top levels of the sport — even at just the youth level. As the Times article points out, “Currently, American households with more than $100,000 in annual income provide 35 percent of soccer players, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, compared with 11 percent from households earning $25,000 or less.”
One argument in improving the U.S. men’s soccer fortunes is to encourage more of a culture of pick-up play, as in other countries, and in the U.S., as in other sports, notably basketball, where America usually does pretty well. But with sports so organized at such early ages, squeezing out any who isn’t dedicated, talented, physically gifted or monetarily endowed, pick-up culture in all sports is dying. (I left video games out of the equation because I don’t necessarily see them as an enemy to playing live sports.)
The money in youth sports isn’t going toward expanding participation for all kids, especially those who come from modest means. It’s going toward mega-facilities where families — it’s hoped — will spend big bucks on their “tourna-cation.” The growth in youth sports is serving an ever-narrower band of families with the means and desire to travel around the world in the name of sport, and while that isn’t inherently a bad thing, it is if that isn’t balanced by efforts to include kids and families who want to participate in sports, but don’t have the money to support a youth sports-based tourism ecosystem.
The fast-growing sports in America are those such as lacrosse and rugby, which have zero pick-up culture in the United States but are growing popular with wealthy white families. However, even sports trying to attract the well-heeled can’t count on that growth forever.
Click through to read the whole thing.