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Soccer may be the world’s most popular sport. But in my experience, soccer is a sport for the privileged few.
Hope Solo–a decorated U.S. goalie– recently called soccer a “rich, white-kid sport.” I agree.
When I was 10, I joined a competitive soccer league. We played across the country. Between equipment costs, coach salaries, and registration fees, my parents spent more than $3,000 a year.
Most of my teammates came from wealthy, white neighborhoods–despite the Bay Area’s diversity. When we played teams from low-income towns, there were often huge gaps between our skill levels, because we could afford expensive trainers, high-end gear, and field rentals.
Once–when my school took on a majority Latino team–I was disgusted to hear some of my classmates yelling racist slurs. Like “Go back to your taco truck!”
Soccer’s lack of accessibility has consequences. This year, the U.S. Men’s Team failed to qualify for the World Cup. The changes our sport needs to make don’t have to start from the top. We can begin with youth soccer programs.