Over the past five years I have attended many Annual General Membership (AGM) meetings for state youth associations throughout the country during the winter and summer months. Each state, unique in its own sense, looks to implement new programs and policies for the coming years to suit the needs of their membership. As my home state of Maryland’s AGM nears later this month, there is one recurring question that I will certainly ask myself prior, during, and after the event. Where is the diversity at the Board, President, Executive Director, and Technical Director/Director of Coaching levels?
In search of an answer, this year I decided to research the names and ethnicity of each and every President, Executive Director, and Technical Director/DOC for all 55 youth state associations. Yes, I know there are only 50 states in the country, but for those readers who may not quite understand the structure of US Youth Soccer Association’s (USYSA), California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas are each split in half from north to south or east to west.
I may not have been able to get to the “Why” there is so little diversity at the decision making levels at state youth associations, because the word why tends to come with various opinions, speculations, and sometimes facts. But I have heard it time and time again that USYSA does not value diversity at the decision making levels and the numbers below support that belief. Some will say that the lack of diversity at the decision making levels are due to the lack of interest in soccer among minorities. However, as we know that just is not the case.
In Major League Soccer, minorities outnumber whites 52% to 48%, with black players making up 31% of the 52%, not the 10%-12% as mentioned by media outlets. In the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), black players equal 15%. After and even during their playing careers many black players get involved with soccer at the youth levels. But when it comes to the decision making positions, the growth in diversity among players have not translated to all levels. As you will see by the numbers, it is very evident that USYSA has made very little effort to promote diversity as parents of suburban children continue to serve as President, Board Members, and Executive Directors to make youth soccer decisions for their states and interest. This explains why there is little to no investment in the inner cities by the state associations, and why soccer in a city like Baltimore is promoted to never become a sport for the inner-city child.
The research determined that there were zero Black Presidents and Executive Directors total throughout the country. As for Director of Coaching/Technical Directors positions there were only two, Terry Eguaoje in Pennsylvania West and Nathan Hunt in Kansas. Whites dominated all three positions holding 96% of all Presidential roles, 95% of Executive Director roles, and 85% of Director of Coaching/Technical Director positions. If it weren’t for Eguaoje and West, the Latin influence of west coast states such as California and Arizona, and the Asian influence of Hawaii, all of the decision making positions held at the state youth associations would be white. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for statistics.