Soccer is one of the world’s most widely played sport. It is often the first sport that kids are introduced to. At the age of five, many future soccer players sign up for a team with the American Youth Soccer Organization where his or her parent can volunteer to be a coach.
For some, that first sport becomes their only sport. They dedicate time away from school to play for a club team, jump for joy when they make the high school varsity team as a freshman and hope to sign a letter of intent to play college soccer.
For men at California State University, Long Beach, the hopes of playing their beloved sport for an NCAA Division 1 school will never come to fruition.
Over 20 years ago, CSULB cut men’s soccer while keeping women’s soccer due to funding issues stemming from the NCAA 1972 federal law known as Title IX, according to Roger Kirk, CSULB’s assistant athletic director for media relations.
Title IX states that federal money for LBSU scholarships offered to student athletes must reflect the female to male ratio of students on campus, which is about 6-to-4. Due to the higher female population at CSULB, women’s sports must receive more money for scholarships in order to comply with the law.
Usually, laws to protect gender equality do just that, but at CSULB, men are being treated unfairly so long as women are the only sex allowed to play NCAA soccer.
In the ‘90s, there was not enough funding available to continue supporting men’s soccer, football and lacrosse, Kirk said.
“The athletic director at the time put together a plan to sponsor a core seven sports…and put the department’s focus on being competitive in those seven sports,” Kirk said.
The lucky seven fully funded sports were men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s volleyball, men’s baseball, women’s softball and women’s soccer.
Today, all of CSULB’s sports are fully funded with the maximum amount of scholarships, but no action has been taken to try to reinstate any of the sports that were cut out, Kirk said.
While the school provides the money for the scholarships offered, it is up to the coaches to disperse the money among the athletes on the teams.
CSULB does not seem to want to spend the extra money that they would need to spend on women’s sports scholarships to justify reinstating an NCAA men’s soccer team.
Sophomore journalism student Jared Thieme, who is in his first semester on the club soccer team, said that of all the sports that should be reinstated, men’s soccer would make the most sense, especially considering how well the club team has been doing.
“The school needs a men’s team…and we have a pretty successful women’s team,” Thieme said. “It would be tough with funding but I think we could do it.”
If men’s soccer were reinstated, the school could make a profit from tickets to matches and company sponsorships. The revenue earned from the team would warrant the money spent to bring back the sport.
The club team, who is just starting their spring season, had a successful season in the fall and is looking forward to winning their league this season.
Assistant captain for the men’s club soccer team, Denny Deluna, said that he hoped to see a men’s soccer team at CSULB.
“I know it’s going to be difficult, but we can try to set up petitions or ask people if they would contribute to doing this,” Deluna said.
CSULB is one of only two schools in the Big West conference to not have an NCAA men’s soccer team. It is not too late for the school to reinstate men’s soccer and to give back the hopes of soccer players everywhere who dream of being a 49er.