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The Downsides of America’s Hyper-Competitive Youth Soccer Industry

Club soccer can require heroic measures on the part of adults — driving regularly to and from distant games, giving over sacred weekends to a child’s pursuit and dividing the family to deposit different kids at separate venues.

In the late 1970s, when he was 10, Rob Nissen played for the only soccer team available to kids in his middle-class, New Jersey town. “It cost $20 to join, and you got a T-shirt and you played,” said Nissen, who today is a book publicist, still in New Jersey.

On Saturdays, he would put on his white canvas Keds and head over to the one park in town that was big enough to accommodate an actual game. No girls’ teams waited on the sidelines — only boys played soccer. Soccer has come a long way in America. Today, millions of American boys and girls play it. 

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