Unfair practices of AYSO


    AYSO and values appear to be mutually exclusive concepts. Last month, my son Ryan, as well as 14 other under-12-year-old boys, was notified that he was selected to the AYSO All-Star soccer team. He was elated at the honor of such selection. Shortly thereafter, he was notified of the practice schedule and was solicited for his jersey size. Approximately one week later we were informed that certain parents had complained with respect to the absence of their children on the team (a prevalent occurrence with All-Star teams), and that, resultantly, a tryout was scheduled to be used as a determinant of the ultimate soccer All-Star team. Ryan, and I, attended the tryout, which was comprised of approximately 1-1/2 hours of timed sprints and dribbling tests, and approximately half an hour of scrimmaging conducted on two extremely small fields. Allegedly, as a result of the scores tabulated from such tryout of absolutely dubious value (a full weekend of tryouts would have been valuable), four kids were replaced on the team, of which one of them was Ryan, who was informed via a voice mail message. Curiously, not all of the replacements even participated in such tryouts conducted for a ludicrously short duration, by personnel who were absolutely ignorant as to the competency of the kids as evidenced over the course of the past soccer season. Furthermore, the All-Star coach and division director did not participate in the selection process, a supposed imperative per AYSO. AYSO set itself up for an untenable and misguided outcome by scheduling the aforementioned tryout and which would knowingly presage a reneging of commitments made to the original All-Star team selectees.

    Thus far, the predominance of the discourse with respect to this matter has been directed towards the bickering amongst certain individuals with respect to the process and who said what to whom. There has been a conspicuous absence of discussion regarding the moral foundation that should underpin our children’s behavior and that of AYSO, as well as consideration of the perspectives and feelings of those children removed from the team. Unfortunately, the messages communicated to the children are that a) an adult’s word and commitment are of absolutely specious value and b) the proverbial squeaky wheel does in fact get the grease — that is, those who complain loudest and are most politically connected will prevail. As someone who deals extensively in the business world, my word and commitments must be, and are, truthful and irrevocable. I constantly reinforce these values in my children. Absent fraudulent representations, even if subsequent facts surface that would have adversely affected my investment decisions or commitments, a deal is a deal! Reprehensibly, AYSO’s actions evidence they believe otherwise.

    With respect to the commentary directed towards Mike Doyle in the Malibu Surfside News Jan. 6 edition, I find it regrettable and unfounded. As someone whose son has been coached by Mike, I believe his ethics to be unquestionably righteous. Regarding comments about Mike being “inexperienced” and having selected an All-Star team that was “unbalanced and unfair,” that evidences personal malice towards Mike and ignorance with respect to Mike’s track record and the team he selected. Mike not only grew up with the sport of soccer but has coached numerous AYSO championship teams and All-Star teams. He would not have possessed an agenda to construct an “unbalanced and unfair” team — that’s unfathomable. In fact, quite to the contrary, due to his intimate knowledge of the kids selected, and those not selected, as well as soccer strategy, he sought to construct a “balanced team” with extraordinary chemistry (something that the AYSO “tryout” and ultimate selection process gave no value to whatsoever) and skills, consistent with his formation and substitution strategy for the team.

    It is possible that certain kids possessed higher individual skill levels than particular kids selected on the initially selected team, possibly. Did that make it justifiable to unwind the initial team, implement a worthless tryout mechanism, incorporate a highly politicized decision making process and completely disregard commitments made to the kids on the original team, absolutely not. Sadly, AYSO opted for, and subsequently endorsed, a misguided process that sought to assuage certain parents with utter disregard for the feelings of certain kids, but most importantly, to the expense of appropriate values and messages being communicated to the most important interested parties, our children.

    Kenneth Friedman