Andscape Claims American Soccer Isn't Black Enough

John Simmons | July 25, 2023
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Andscape is up to its race-baiting tactics yet again.

The ESPN-affiliated blog published an article by William C. Rhoden in which he said that soccer at large has a diversity problem in the United States. He indicated that there aren’t enough black youth in travel and youth soccer leagues in America  - even though he didn’t mention how many there are to begin with or what he deemed would be an acceptable number to shoot for (side note: most people who argue for more “diversity” will usually only answer the first question, but never the second one).

Rhoden interviewed Sola Winley, executive vice president and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for Major League Soccer (MLS), for his article to gain fresh insight on how MLS will break these so-called “participation-barriers” for black youth in the sport.

Rhoden and Winley discussed the lack of opportunity for black kids to play soccer, and this is the only argument they present without race-baiting. Both men noticed how basketball courts are more prevalent in certain communities than soccer fields, so the opportunity for black kids to get exposed to soccer is minimized by a lack of resources.

Ed Foster-Simeon, president and CEO of the U.S. Soccer Foundation, said that his organization’s goal is to help change that by installing “mini-pitches” in communities across the country.

“They’re like the size of a tennis court,” he said. “We’re putting those right in school yards. We did 50 in New York City with New York FC. And so to date, we’ve done over 600 of those around the country with a goal of installing a thousand by 2026.”

This line of reasoning and action makes perfect sense. If you want to provide opportunities for a certain demographic to play soccer, you’ve got to invest in making those opportunities happen. Surprisingly, Rhoden did not frame this statement in a way that made it seem that a lack of soccer fields in black communities was a byproduct of “systemic racism,” he simply noticed a trend that helps explain why black kids in certain areas don't play soccer that frequently. So credit where credit is due.

But that doesn’t mean the whole discussion was free of race-baiting.

Rhoden and Winley highlighted that cost can be a factor in determining if young Black kids play soccer. Winley said it can cost up to $3,000 a year to get a spot on the team, but another online source said that some leagues cost half that price. While Winley’s number certainly might reflect the price for some programs, it does seem like there are more affordable leagues out there, meaning that black kids aren’t dealing with a cost barrier everywhere in the United States.

But Winley’s biggest mistake was indicating that a lack of black coaches might make black youth hesitant to join soccer programs. He highlighted that black kids might not be interested in playing youth soccer because there are only two black head coaches in the MLS.

Related: USWNT Actually Stands For National Anthem At World Cup

“We have to be intentional about making sure that everybody feels that soccer is the place for them,” Winley said. “Black American kids need to be able to see people they can look up to. We have to have coaches kids can identify with.”

While there may be a lack of black coaches at the professional level, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any at other levels of soccer competition. Once again, Winley doesn’t provide a number of how many black men hold coaching positions on non-MLS teams, or how many would make black kids want to play soccer. He just says he wants more.

Furthermore, the idea that black kids don’t have role models to look up to in American soccer is hogwash at best. If either of these guys watched the 2022 Men’s World Cup, they would have seen the Starting XI for the United States and realized something quite obvious.

This is a screenshot of an image Winley used in his article of the starting lineup for the United States Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) in the Round of 16 match against the Netherlands:

Andscape article

Six of the 11 players are black! Did he not stop and consider what the picture in his own article means? How can your argument be that black kids have no one to look up to in this sport when half of the national team is black?

As is the case with Andscape articles, they mix half-baked theories or facts with a healthy dose of racist narratives to create a problem in a certain area of culture or sports, in this case, soccer. But if you step back and assess the situation from a different point of view and take off the race-obsession glasses, you can see that there are always more factors that help explain a situation that meets the eye.

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