Frustrated reformers need to take away one key lesson from the recent U.S. Soccer Federation presidential election: Passion doesn’t matter unless you channel it into powerful incentives. Unless they organize into an active constituency that must be reckoned with by those in power, advocates for a more grassroots, club and athlete-centered model of American soccer will continue to fail to achieve real change.
It’s a fundamental tenet of public policy advocacy that the overriding priority of people with power is to retain that power. Politicians of whatever stripe and in whatever environment value reelection over everything else. That’s why elected officials need to believe the support or opposition of people sharing a point of view will play a meaningful role in that equation, or else they will be set aside in favor of interests with more perceived power. Given this reality, American soccer reformers must organize the amorphous mass of frustrated fans, supporters, players, parents, club owners and other stakeholders into a functional constituency for their shared interests. Only then will they have the power to demand and expect meaningful change from the people with power over the sport’s official structures in our nation.
If they don’t, the future will hold more of the same.
Continue reading “American Soccer Reformers Must Learn How to Force Real Change”
This isn’t necessarily work-related, but I wanted to share it regardless. We use the word “hero” a lot, but I was honored to meet someone whose claim to that word is beyond debate.
This is Col. Richard Cole, who was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot during the famous “30 Seconds Over Tokyo” raid of 1942. To get America a much-needed victory and reset Japanese strategic calculations after Pearl Harbor, the “Doolittle Raiders” launched bombers that had never before flown from an aircraft carrier on a mission where they had no real expectation of landing at an actual airfield. (Cole’s crew bailed out over China when they ran out of fuel.) They bombed military targets in Tokyo, doing minor physical damage but sending shockwaves through the entire Japanese military and delivering notice that America wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
At 102 years old, Col. Cole is the last surviving member of the Doolittle Raiders.
I met him because this past weekend, my family and I were honored to be guests at the 93d Bomb Squadron’s centennial celebration, which included a change-of-command ceremony. My grandfather Charles R. d’Olive was a member of the 93d in World War I, when it was a “pursuit squadron” (we call them “fighter squadrons” now), and scored the first victory in the 93d’s history. Today, the 93d is a USAF Reserve B-52 squadron based at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
The men and women of the 93d continue to serve in the best tradition of Col. Cole, my grandfather and their brothers in arms. Their legacies are in good hands.
I’m at the State Policy Network Annual Meeting in San Antonio this week. Say hi if you see me, or reach out if you’re interested in setting a time to get together.
My one formal responsibility is serving as the mock interview subject for John Kramer’s session on donor privacy. It’s on Thursday at 9:45 a.m., feel free to stop by and watch me play a besieged spokesperson.
When I joined the Mackinac Center for Public Policy roughly a year and a half ago as its vice president for marketing and communications, I described it as my “dream job.” I’d been passionate about liberty and free markets since the early 1990s, but had never had an opportunity to combine my personal beliefs with my professional expertise. The Mackinac Center gave me that opportunity, for which I will be eternally grateful.
The only downside to this dream job was the two-hour commute each way between Mackinac’s Midland, Mich. headquarters and my home in the eastern suburbs of Detroit. While the commute wasn’t always fun, I did find ways to make it worthwhile. It became my time for creative thought, for longer-form phone discussions with colleagues and for catching up on podcasts and audiobooks of all kinds. But at the end of the day, what forced me to regretfully tender my resignation last week was the impact my near-constant absence had on my family. As much as I loved my job, life is too short to miss all the Little League games and family dinners and homework questions for which I was on the road.
I remain a huge fan of the organization and of its people, and will be rooting for it from the sidelines and supporting it however I can. As I wrote in Forbes last month, I know exactly how much good policy matters to the people of my state.