Today marks 2 years of 3four3!
When I first started, the idea was really just to get my thoughts on paper, flesh them out and refine them over time. I thought I would systematically deconstruct all the issues I saw with the sport in the U.S., and methodically build up solutions. Surely that would be educational for me and for any readers who stumbled across the blog.
But what ended up happening many times was different. The site kind of became an outlet of sorts for the almost daily stress caused by what I would read, hear, and witness out there. I found it therapeutic.
But as I reflect, I think those pieces have just as much, if not more, value.
Let me explain.
As I read over my first ever post, I can’t help but nod my head that the fundamental issue with soccer in America is education.
No. Not education of baseball, football, or basketball fans. I’m talking about this country’s existing soccer community. Our kids, the parents of those kids, their coaches, college coaches, scouts, content creators, Bruce Arena, John Harke’s … everyone!
But what education? Many critique that I only talk about the problems and offer no solutions. Well two years, and 100 posts later, I think they’re right in a certain respect. Where are my solutions? Where is this so-called education?
After all, when one says their goal is to educate, shouldn’t they be offering traditional “how-to” articles?
- How to develop soccer players?
- How to fix college soccer?
- How to identify “true quality”?
… among a thousand other how-to’s …
I get it. You want a systematic and specific – almost scientific – series that solves each issue. Instead of talking about the problem that is 2+2, you want me to just say 4! Well I want to do more of that too. Just understand that it’s not enough, and it won’t solve the ‘education problem’.
It’s just not that simple!
I could develop my own “Coerver-coaching style” videos, but that won’t turn a coach or your kid into something special. Sure it can help raise their levels, but it won’t fabricate “special”.
Similarly, I could attempt to breakdown some professional or collegiate coach, or attempt to show why Player X is greater than Player Y. But it won’t matter. It will have little impact on those who most need educating – especially because I’ll be going against everything they hold true.
Don’t get me wrong, structure matters. However, it is both people’s mentality and lack of passion that holds them back. The latter I can’t influence, but I can try with the former.
Looking over much of the archives here, it seems like that is what I’ve been attempting to transmit. A change of mentality!
Because it is that which leads most astray.
Why would someone:
- think that Dempsey is world class?
- think possession isn’t important (or overrated or whatever)?
- think Barcelona should have a ‘plan B’?
- conclude Freddy Adu’s failure is due to debuting too early?
- be vehemently against so-called ‘diving’?
- think ‘no big deal’ to our U-20s failing to qualify?
- conclude Bob Bradley’s national team pool consisted of the best in the country?
- choose junk player X over Anthony Ampaipitakwon?
- conclude our problem is because our “best athletes” choose another sport?
and on and on ad infinitum.
Ok. So people just don’t know any better. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple matter of trying to tell them why they’re wrong because you can’t. You just can’t prove anything!
It’s one mentality (or philosophy) against another.
So how can progress be made you ask? Well, by providing people a window into the ‘other’ mentality. The Mexican, Central and South American, and some European philosophies.
Most Americans haven’t really been exposed to that, let alone absorbed it. Their soccer consumption is overwhelmingly American and English commentary, which obviously reflects and reinforces those cultures. Sure they may read this or that article on Ajax, Barcelona, or whatever, but that doesn’t immerse them with the foreign mentality on a consistent basis. Those articles – and many can be quite good – only provide the view from 30,000 feet.
So unless one is multi-lingual or well integrated with another culture, what kind of global understanding and appreciation of the sport do they really have? I’m not saying they can’t, but it’s gotta be tough. Could they use more than their American and English media bubble? No doubt about it!
Just look at what mentality and philosophies are constantly being consumed. Is it from those that consistently pump out ‘world class’? What mentality is likely the better one for soccer? The Spanish, Brazilian, Italian, Argentine, German et al., or the American and English?
So it’s no wonder so many people share the ideas listed above. That’s what they’ve been consuming from perceived soccer authorities. They really haven’t been exposed to the other side!
In many cases, I think that’s what 3four3’s trying to provide.
Two years later, I feel we’ve barely scratched the surface.
That’s because saying people’s mentality must change, is a kin to saying their culture must change. So if we’re in a culture war, then of course it’s going to be tough – if not close to impossible. Try convincing people to embrace so-called ‘diving’, or that a coach they believe to be elite is actually a donkey, or that tremendous potential world-class talents are turned down in favor of junk. It’s like climbing Mount Everest I tell you! It’s like trying to convert a non-soccer person to the beautiful game. Yeah … it’s that difficult!
But having you guys reading and contributing helps enormously! The value you generate, not just here, but around the web and offline is HUGE! Without you, I’m just some crazy soccer guy talking to himself and scratching his head thinking; “How could Marvell Wynne be a professional soccer player?”
Thank You Guys, and prepare yourself for a lot more; because we’ve only just begun!