Wake Up the Inner City
As the NBA Championship wrapped up and all of the post-game talk ensued, basketball fans around the world have slowly but surely begun that agonizing basketball withdrawal that we all go through at this time of the year. And for that I’m deeply regretful… But don’t fret…next season is right around the corner. Be happy!
Be that as it may, the series MVP, LeBron James made a very powerful statement during a post-game interview that is worthy of analysis. He said, “I’m LeBron James…from Akron, Ohio…from the inner city…I’m not even supposed to be here!”
What an important statement. With the World Cup rapidly approaching in June of next year, let’s take a moment and understand the correlation between what LeBron said and the United States participation, or should we say lack thereof, and competitiveness in the “World’s Sport”.
With LeBron, we’re looking at a man who came to the NBA literally as a child from the inner city and took his team to not one, but two consecutive NBA Championships. Interesting, isn’t it? It’s painfully obvious that from a social mobility perspective, the inner city is and has been the driving force for social mobility for decades. From fashion and music to “coolness,” the forgotten and often overlooked inner city is the driving force behind pop culture.
As for soccer in the United States, so far as I can tell, it is somewhat of an “elitist” sport relegated to the suburbs of major metropolitan cities and families with elevated incomes. That could be a true indication as to why we’re a mere afterthought on the world stage when it comes to soccer. Outside of these borders, nothing could be further from the truth. In the rest of the world, the true stars of the game hail from the often forgotten about, severely underserved, and economically challenged ghettos of the world. It’s time for the upper echelon of soccer here in the United States to put their pride in their back pocket and realize the potential and quality of athletes right before their eyes. Clearly, in some social circles, that may very well be too much like doing the right thing.
Yeah, I get that. You don’t want your country club buddies to look at you cockeyed when you tell them that you’re scouring the inner city for that prodigy who is going to save soccer in the United States. If that’s the way you feel…fine…so be it and quit whining.
I’m just saying, there might be a glimmer of hope for the United States to be a true competitor on the world stage of soccer if the powers that be take a step back, put their prides in their back pockets and comb the forgotten urban areas in search of the next Pele, Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar.
Article by Dirk Weaver.
Dirk Weaver is a contributing writer to UrbanStreetSoccer.