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Why do Americans Quit Soccer in Their Early Teens?

As soccer, or football as it is called in certain parts of the world, continues to gain popularity both around the world and in the United States, the sport still suffers from a loss of players as Americans seem to grow older and stop playing the world’s game.

US Youth Soccer, a national association comprised of 55 state members, is one of the largest youth soccer organizations in the country boasting three million members ranging from ages 5-19. According to their site, 85% of the young soccer players in the country are a part of US Youth Soccer’s organization. However, even this organization has seen a decrease in membership since it reached its peak in 2008.

In an article written by Vince Ganzberg, Director of Education for Indiana Youth Soccer which is one of the state member associations of US Youth Soccer, children quit playing soccer for a multitude of reasons but most of them are adult controlled.

finalgraphicGanzberg argues that a lack of playing time, overemphasis on winning, lack of fun, the behavior of coaches and adults in attendance, dissatisfaction with performance and lack of social support all contribute to players quitting. However, the only reason given by Ganzberg that is controlled by the player is a higher interest in other activities.

However, others believe that it has more to do with the United States’ opinion on the game.

“People just grow out of [soccer]. They don’t think that’s cool. I think that it is something that most people don’t look up to in America. Everybody wants to be basketball players, football players and sometimes baseball players,” Joshua Parfait, a Houma native, says.

Meanwhile, there are some who enjoyed playing soccer during their childhood.

“When I was younger soccer was not even on my radar when it came to sports that interested me. Basketball and baseball were my favorite sports, but up here soccer sits between those seasons, so I picked it up in the 6th grade. I played for four years, mainly as a way to keep in shape and have something to do in the fall months. My interest in playing peaked when I was in the 8th grade after I started learning about some of the top players and trying to emulate them. I stopped playing in 2008 because I didn’t like my schools setup, and to play football,” Joseph Williams, student at Temple University, says.

Whatever the root of the problem, kids in the United States will continue to play soccer. The question is if they will continue to play into their adulthood.

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