We spend a lot of money on our kid's activities. We (parents) are the consumers and the kids are the users.
When I buy things that cost between $5,000-$10,000, I approach the purchase much differently than when buying something for $100. I spend more time evaluating the quality of the product or service. I research online and read reviews on Facebook, Amazon, Yelp or Google. I might search the name of the product or service with the words "sucks" or "ripoff" next to it, just to see what comes up.
Including travel and hotel stays, it is not uncommon for parents to spend between $5,000 to $10,000 a year to participate on a highly competitive youth soccer team. If your child is on a top team for four years, that's between $20,000 and $40,000 invested into youth soccer.
What are we purchasing? What are we paying for? Are we aware of what we are investing in?
Many of my fellow parents site the following as reasons they spend thousands of dollars on soccer.
"This is where everyone goes"
"We don't know where else to go"
"I don't know what makes one club better than another"
"This is where his friends play"
"We were told to send our kids here"
"My kid won't get into college unless he plays here"
"They had a high ranking on GotSoccer"
All four of my children attend private or specialized schools. The cost is substantial. However those schools make it very clear what I am buying. They cater to me because I pay tuition and validate the effectiveness of their educational services. I do this with the understanding that I am investing in a school environment where the objective is to give my children the educational foundation necessary to be independent thinking, problem solvers with a sense of community. Schools are in the business of developing, educating and nurturing young people, and view continuing education and parent engagement as a necessity to creating a better learning environment for students.
Can you say the same about your soccer club? Do they give you private school level communication for near private-school-level investment? For those of you that answer yes, you are fortunate.
But for the majority of parents, can you say that you know what you are buying? Have you seen previous evaluations of the coach you are being assigned? Has he or she been given a personality test? Has he or she been given any type of psychological assessment?
Has your coach taught children before? Have you and the club researched the coaches social media accounts? Does your coach have children? What do you know about this individual that will be responsible for your child's development over an extended period of time?
Is a simple background check and criminal history check enough in this day and age? Are your club administrators and coaches continuing their soccer education? Is there a way to educate parents and structure their feedback so that It becomes a value add to club rather than a nuisance that has to be dealt with?
There are a lot of important questions that need answers.
I have a few solutions which I plan to test. But, an open discussion should be had.
As consumers, we shouldn't be forced to accept what someone wants to give us. We should be sold on the fact that we are purchasing a product/service with full transparency that allows us to measure the degree to which that service meets our expectations based on criteria the parent and the club mutually agree on.
Share your thoughts below.....