Money Matters: An Investigation of the Effects of Pay-To-Play Systems on Youth Soccer Diversity



Hartman, Brandon

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The fees of U.S Youth Soccer’s pay-to-play system impact the racial and socio-economic diversity of its travel soccer participants. Many deserving players are unable to afford the cost of competitive travel soccer and thus miss out on playing at the highest level of the sport and receiving benefits such as physical fitness, motor skills, etc. This study uses demographic data from a club in Fairfax County, Virginia and the interviews of six professional soccer coaches from Northern Virginia in a concurrent mixed method approach to determine the impact that costly fees have on diversity. It is found that money does indeed matter, as there is a low level of diversity at the club and there is a large amount of players come from higher income areas. Potential solutions are also discussed by the coaches, as well as their experiences and thoughts on the pay-to-play system, as the conversation on fixing the diversity problem in youth soccer is begun.



Pay-to-Play, Diversity in sports, Youth soccer, Social class and sports