I’ve heard it said, it’s one of the biggest financial and psychological schemes in SoCal. Caveat emptor people!!! I hear this from parents and some coaches every year. Let’s get it out there....what do you think? In cases, the notion of the club soccer product in SoCal is a social construct producing a false consciousness across a well educated, affluent “me too” and “fear of missing out on MY share” (and I should have your share too buster) culture of people. It is designed to produce the same dopamine that gets triggered under drug use and is highly addictive. Just as addictive as that iPhone you are holding in your hand. Now do not be fooled, those who run the businesses know exactly what they are doing. You are in good hands!! Parents complain to me and it seems to not really matter which club they are with now. We are going to play a guessing game! Try to guess the club(s) and whether it’s the girls or boys programs or both described below. This is as tricky as the subject and should be fun for everyone!!!! The leadership, a term that is loosely used, and some coaches, act as if they are mafia wise guys! Yep, they conduct club soccer like friendly mafia wise guys helping out their community, managing independent contractor coaches some of whom behave like used car salesmen and drug dealers overselling, exploiting, driving the hopes and addiction while extorting, and grafting back part of their take to the boss and dowling out crumbs to their helpers. Partial payment can be in the form of sex. Yes, you just read that right! It’s extra but can pay off for the willing. Want your son or daughter on the team, the directors back seat and the coaches laps are ready for you!!! They covet the wealthy lifestyle and if you flaunt it the right way, like a fisherman and his jig, you can hook them in the gut and take “them” for the ride! They cannot help themselves. In particular the club(s) management’s perception of their ability to continue their behaviors of taking advantage of and control people (the parents and their players ) while sometimes delivering an increasingly inferior sometimes harmful service grows stronger. Having gotten away with it so long they continue to grow greedier and greedier and more contemptuous towards their customers. You know the song “smiling faces, smiling faces”. Weak parents and players continue, though in drips, to give them a steady enough stream of paying suckers. The parents “customers”, a word you can never use around the coach or director without retaliation, who were once plentiful in supply, hungry oblivious marks over eager to pay for play are catching on to the scheme. The purported product can have psychological implications and deleterious affects on the players, especially the weak who are forced by their parents to live out their dreams for them. Let’s be clear, the product is managed and marketed like an addictive drug to probably 50-75% of the parents who shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. This while being purported to be a quality competitive growth experience with college soccer scholarships at the end of the rainbow. Most parents and players, those who should be on AYSO teams eating their snacks at halftime and doing arts and crafts, are manipulated as if hooked on an addictive drug. But they still stay and pay, addicted, naked and afraid. They think, what would my neighbor say if we stopped? Oh no, no more club swag... ? Shit, he drives a Range Rover! Do not be fooled, they know exactly what they are doing. Oversell and under deliver, vilify and berate the victims, driving compliance with parents through threats and shunning alienation. This is poison to people who seem to have an insatiable “Fear Of Missing Out” on what’s theirs and what’s yours that should be theirs! Who do you blame really, the pushers or the users, the supply or the demand? Now stop and think about it? Are you one of their families? Are the players getting what you are paying for? Is there a team parent coaching your coach; to win favor for his own child? Is your child’s team getting any real training? Does your child attend practice on a crap elementary school field or a quality field? Are you really getting the alleged professional training that will result in amazing skills and college scholarships? To be fair, there is a positive context as well. The programs can be great for parents and players. Clubs do have some excellent quality passionate leaders and coaches. Unfortunately they are the ones the complaining parents whine about the most. They don’t play the politics, or start the weak player from the wealthy family, or start the kid whose mother ... (we will leave this one alone for now), though they get crap for it. They play the players who care, work hard, want to develop and aspire to play in college. Let the lazy smart asses ride the pine! God, I love these guys! Clearly there is about 20%, 30% or more of the players and parents who are serious and make it regardless. We invest further on private training and are ahead of the curve and in the end those players will be successful!!! OK - your turn. Can you guess?