I­’m not sure how widespread this is across USYSA affiliates, but in North Carolina, the NCYSA stipulates that new clubs applying for membership must have and maintain a 60/40 ratio between recreational players and travel/select players. While this strikes some as a barrier to entry (and it is), I believe it is there for good reason.


A common problem in youth soccer is a small group of parents getting frustrated with their league and splintering off to form their own league, taking a handful of select teams and forming a league. The 60/40 rule doesn’t prevent an alternative league from forming in the same area as an existing league (which is also good – competition keeps clubs on their toes and focused). It simply ensures that if a group wants to form a league, that they put the effort into forming a league with a solid core. It also helps ensure that players at all levels have options (i.e. Rec players) instead of splintering off resources into ‘select only’ pockets.

Maintaining the 60/40 ratio is also good as it encourages leagues to continue to sustain and improve their recreational program. Overall, successful leagues at the select level tend to have strong recreational programs. This rule ensures they don’t lose sight of that, allowing their recreational program to wither as resources get poured into select only.

60/40 also helps encourage state membership of recreational players, which helps to keep costs low and ensures more players and coaches are covered by supplemental medical insurance, liability insurance, and ensures the league adult volunteers have had background checks.

The NCYSA bylaws stipulate that new clubs have to have and maintain a 60/40 Rec to Select ratio. This makes sense – why require it to attain membership if you don’t have to maintain it? We want clubs that have thriving and growing Rec programs feeding their select teams. I should note that some older clubs that never had Rec programs (because they were run out of city parks, etc.) are ‘grandfathered’. This is fine – many older clubs can’t change the local dynamic. But most new clubs start from ‘Recreation’ anyway and work their way up to Challenge and Classic level play.­

Now ­a proposal is being made to amend the NCYSA bylaws so clubs only have to have a 60/40 ratio at the time they apply for membership. The term ‘maintain’ is removed and the rule clarified that the ratio only applies to the time a club applies for new membership. It makes no sense. The ratio is a good thing. It ensures clubs don’t let their Rec programs wither. It ensures that clubs don’t push too many players up to a level they don’t belong.

So I’m puzzled. The proposal didn’t come with any reasons why it was proposed, so I guess we’ll find out in January at the Annual General Meeting. But why would you have the ratio at all if it only applied at the time a club applied for membership?