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The high-pressure commercialization of the youth sports pipeline knows no bounds.

Ripe for Corruption

Over 30 million kids. Over 14,000 youth leagues and clubs. It adds up to over
$9 billion annually. Most of that money is flowing through sleepy nonprofits overseen by volunteer parents with lax controls. Most of the money ends up in the pockets of youth club coaches—who are financially incentivized to preach to parents that Johnny’s got potential.

The New York Times reports that prosecutions for embezzlement have become increasingly common, citing examples of hundreds of thousands of dollars being stolen in Washington, Minnesota, New Jersey, Michigan, Maine, Wisconsin and Vermont by youth club treasurers and officers.

Where there’s money, there are lawsuits. A mom in Virginia sued her daughter’s volleyball club after her daughter was benched. When his son was cut from the track team, a dad in Philadelphia sued—for $40 million. And a Dallas-area dad filed racketeering charges against local lacrosse coaches, accusing them of using their leverage to force players to attend expensive camps.

It institutionalizes mass rejection of young people.

Chris Green

British soccer journalist and author of Every Boy’s Dream
An estimated 10,000 players are in the Premier League’s youth academies, signed as early as age 8. Only 1 out of 100 will make it.

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