Jamie Trecker’s latest post wonders about the impacts of the current financial instability on domestic and international soccer clubs:

In the short term, this means that teams that are heavily leveraged – like Liverpool – might face cash crunches as they attempt to stock their roster or build a new stadium.

and this got me thinking about impacts on youth soccer.

Nobody knows for sure, but I think we are headed towards a period of significant financial turmoil in America. The American consumer has been on a shopping binge off cheap refinance cash outs, but that well is drying up. Now consumers are hitting the credit cards harder than ever, but that’s much more expensive (and punitive if you sneeze wrong). At some point the binge has to come to an end, and when it does, I think our economy is in for a heck of a fall. But even if I’m totally wrong, assume I’m not and roll with me for a minute.

Youth soccer is often faulted for being ‘too expensive’, a sport of ‘rich white suburban kids’, etc. I don’t deny that there are issues with costs in youth soccer, but for the most part, the high costs are limited to competitive soccer programs. The vast majority of players in the US play at the recreational level where costs are often very low. In towns where a season of top level competitive play may cost $1000+ in league fees alone, a year of recreational play is often $100 or less.

This disconnect makes me wonder about the impacts of an economic downturn on youth soccer in the US. Will competitive programs suffer? Or are the majority of those families somewhat insulated from any financial downturn effects? Will players drop down a level or change clubs for financial reasons? Will the ever increasing cost of gasoline have an impact? Will teams cut back on tournament play and instead focus on the regular season? Will leagues see their financial aid programs overloaded? What about recreation? Even though it is significantly less expensive, will even $100/year cause some parents to hold back? Or will recreational programs attract MORE players since it represents an inexpensive sport overall with small fees and cheap equipment costs.

I don’t have any real feel for what might happen. But its something leagues should keep an eye on, especially since many may see spikes in financial aid requests or drops in revenue due to participation drops. I hope this ends up just being a hypothetical, but it never hurts to prepare and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.