'Elite' is now Obsolete!
Updated: Nov 4, 2019
This has been discussed before on social media, podcasts and articles but it is something that I feel really passionate about and have to deal with almost on a daily basis. Categorizing children.
I'm an educator, and businessman in competition with programs that categorize their players at age 7 & 8 as 'Elite'. I am going to repeat that. They categorize 7 & 8 year olds as elite. It is things like this that make me question just how far a program will go to make an extra dollar or two thousand. These program directors all acknowledge that these players are not elite and that they know they shouldn't call them that but they still do. Why is that? Is it because everyone else is doing it? I saw a post on from Joe Eisenmann that said something along the lines of "Throw the words "select". "premier" or "elite" in front of a sports program. and there's no end to the amount of effort & $ parents will put forth to get our kid into it".
I think that sums it up for me. It's not about the child, it's about themselves.
This is not just reserved to soccer. It happens in baseball, basketball and any kind of 'travel sport' where young children can now be crowned 'National Champions at age 7 or play in tournaments for cash prizes. Does that make them professional?
These directors, administrators and coaches know they shouldn't use the word elite but do because they know parents will throw money at it. This is where you can identify if the program is transactional or transformational. Now don't get me wrong, I am a businessman.One of the the greatest business saying I like is "If you are not making a margin, you cannot make a difference" - Tony Robbins. It reminds me that I can have all the principles in the world, but I also still need to make a margin to make a difference so I can use these principles in the programs we operate.
However, the main part of a business should be "the Why?". Why are you in the business? Why works with kids? Why start a new program when your competitors are 10 times bigger than you are? Well, because ambition, goals and just trying to make difference is still important.
'Elite used to mean something'
Here's a better question. Why use the word Elite when talking about children in sports? The only elite children in sports compete in the Olympics normally before their body changes with age that makes competing at such a high level too difficult.
How can a city like Atlanta have over 10, 20 or 30 elite teams in any age group? Quite simply they can't.
The world 'Elite' is normally associated with the aristocrats and royal family and not normally in a good way. It used to mean something and have a clear definition. Now it is used in every soccer club, in every city and it's losing its power. 'Elite' is no longer 'elite'.
Why do we need to label every team? Is it form their benefit?
Why do we need to label our kids from such a young age? Why can't we just let them play without having to give them a name that makes the adults feel better? Because how could the adults feel better about themselves without living through their child? Maybe by seeing the other aspects of childhood and being a good person.
One of the proudest moments recently involving my children and youth sports is that my son, with little experience of competitive basketball, made his schools basketball team. It's not that that makes me proud. It was at the end of try-outs when he shook every coaches hadn't and thanked them. He then asked if they need help cleaning up and he and one other students (out of 28) collected the balls and equipment. That's what I was proud of and I hope it was these actions that made a difference for his selection.
We need to make the use of the word 'elite' obsolete or have these other organizations already done that?