Our local newspaper recently reported that a group of 8-year-olds had qualified for a national 3-on-3 soccer tournament July 31 to Aug. 2 at a theme park resort in Florida; but the report said the team had to raise $5,000 for the privilege.
Without knowing it at the time, the players and coaches qualified on the basis of a second-place finish at a tournament last August in Hastings, Michigan. Really? Second place? Last year?
Let’s be frank. The basis for qualifying for this national event in Florida was not a runner-up finish in a tournament for 7-year-olds the previous summer in a small town in Michigan. The basis for qualifying was the ability to raise $5,000 so the resort could fill its hotel rooms and sell tickets to its theme parks.
National tournament? Baloney. If you can pay, then you can play. Sell this as an expensive family trip, perhaps; but as a national tournament, it has zero integrity.
This kind of hype and hypocrisy adds to the challenges of administering sane and sensible school sports. Neither 8- nor 18-year-olds need national tournaments. There’s a lot more bang for the buck in our own backyards.