Title

Confusion Reigns: Social Media Content Analysis of the Responses to US Soccer Age Cut off Date Policy Change

Type of Proposal

Visual Presentation (Poster, Installation, Demonstration)

Start Date

22-3-2018 2:30 PM

End Date

22-3-2018 4:30 PM

Location

Atrium

Faculty

Faculty of Human Kinetics

Abstract/Description of Original Work

The relative age effect (RAE) is a developmental advantage experienced by those born in the early months of the year following a pre-determined cut-off date compared to their relatively younger peers (Barnsley, Thompson, & Barnsley, 1985). In 2016, the US Soccer Federation announced that it was changing its youth soccer cut off date from August 1st to January 1st in order to combat the RAE. This decision has been a hotly debated topic among parents, coaches, administrators, and other stakeholders on various social media platforms. As a result, the purpose of this study was to understand US Soccer’s rationale for changing the cut-off date, how information about the change was communicated, and the overall perception of this change from different stakeholder groups. Qualitative data were collected from a total of 63 social media sites, including websites (n = 43), forums (n = 16), and blogs (n = 4). From the 3,851 pages of text that were derived from these sources, 308 quotes were identified and coded based on their relevance to the aforementioned topics. Based on the data coding that has been completed thus far, some of the more common themes are social factors, RAEs, developmental factors, communication, and confusion. From the above themes, there was an overwhelming sense of confusion regarding when the change would be implemented and the impact this would have on age groupings. Although this policy change was implemented to combat the RAE, the revision will only modify those who are advantaged/disadvantaged and there is a disconnect between academic literature on solutions to the RAE and what is being implemented. This misunderstanding has and may continue to result in local soccer organizations resisting the change and athletes completely dropping out of the sport, which may have implications for volunteer recruitment and retention.

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Mar 22nd, 2:30 PM Mar 22nd, 4:30 PM

Confusion Reigns: Social Media Content Analysis of the Responses to US Soccer Age Cut off Date Policy Change

Atrium

The relative age effect (RAE) is a developmental advantage experienced by those born in the early months of the year following a pre-determined cut-off date compared to their relatively younger peers (Barnsley, Thompson, & Barnsley, 1985). In 2016, the US Soccer Federation announced that it was changing its youth soccer cut off date from August 1st to January 1st in order to combat the RAE. This decision has been a hotly debated topic among parents, coaches, administrators, and other stakeholders on various social media platforms. As a result, the purpose of this study was to understand US Soccer’s rationale for changing the cut-off date, how information about the change was communicated, and the overall perception of this change from different stakeholder groups. Qualitative data were collected from a total of 63 social media sites, including websites (n = 43), forums (n = 16), and blogs (n = 4). From the 3,851 pages of text that were derived from these sources, 308 quotes were identified and coded based on their relevance to the aforementioned topics. Based on the data coding that has been completed thus far, some of the more common themes are social factors, RAEs, developmental factors, communication, and confusion. From the above themes, there was an overwhelming sense of confusion regarding when the change would be implemented and the impact this would have on age groupings. Although this policy change was implemented to combat the RAE, the revision will only modify those who are advantaged/disadvantaged and there is a disconnect between academic literature on solutions to the RAE and what is being implemented. This misunderstanding has and may continue to result in local soccer organizations resisting the change and athletes completely dropping out of the sport, which may have implications for volunteer recruitment and retention.