The Most Undermining Phrase in American Soccer

“It’s just a game”.

No, it’s not.

It’s an economic market like any other.

There are businesses in play, livelihoods at stake, communities to consider, and consumers that should be looked after.

This is an ecosystem with real people, with real consequences, who depend on responsible governance.

  • Clubs (independent businesses) get affected.
  • People working with or for those clubs get affected.
  • Members and customers of those clubs get affected.
  • Every community and the general consumer gets affected.

While the relative magnitudes vary, anyone who has an economic touchpoint with this market gets affected.

US Soccer (aka USSF, aka the United States Soccer Federation) is the governing body presiding over the American soccer ecosystem. It is implicitly, if not explicitly, chartered to look out for the interests of all its constituents.

Read that again, “all its constituents”.

So when someone says “it’s just a game”, it diverts attention away from real people being negatively impacted by the establishment, and diverts attention away from those who currently reap the mass rewards of the establishment.

I’m hard pressed to find another multi-billion dollar economic market, outside American soccer, where a phrase such as “oh, no need to deeply investigate how we govern the market and conduct business, this isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things”, works so well in deflecting deep dives.

So when they say “it’s just a game”, it’s genius.

Have they indoctrinated you to say it?

p.s. I’m aware of the wider sports generalization in this context. But due to its profile, American soccer in particular has been remarkable in evading deep investigation.

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  1. André says

    While I do appreciate your thoughts on the topic, I would like for you to discuss the fourth bullet point “Every community and the general consumer gets affected.” from the following perspective …

    If you contend that the players/families are customers of these clubs and considering the motto/slogan “The customer is always right” do you think one can effectively develop soccer players having a customer/consumer relationship with players and families?

  2. says

    First, you guys are my bible … setting the standard. It is more than a game obviously. Sadly, in the Cincinnati area Club soccer is not just a game but BIG business. No problem if the end product was producing well rounded players … but that’s not the case.
    Many clubs, 450 or more teams and 90% of the players are tragically dismal in their abilities.

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