Despite that old chestnut claiming there are more dogs than children in San Francisco, kids do still live in our fair city — and more and more of those precious bundles of joy, it turns out, like playing soccer. So many, in fact, that the Examiner reports the number getting in on the youth soccer game has doubled since 2009 with an additional 5,000 little Lionel Messis and 300 new teams. Perhaps mirroring a city that has failed to build enough housing to accommodate a growing population, some parents claim the Recreation and Parks Department has failed to construct enough new soccer fields to meet demands — and that the fields that do exist are being unfairly allocated based on favoritism and cronyism.
Rec and Parks isn't having it, however, and the San Francisco Youth Soccer league was on the receiving end of a letter earlier this month from the department, the paper notes, basically telling the organization to determine a field sharing and travel schedule itself — or face outside interference.
“A few adults have taken their eye off the ball and lost focus on what really matters and that’s the kids,” Rec and Parks spokesperson Elton Pon told the Examiner. “From our perspective, it is an internal struggle within the youth soccer community, and we look to them to come up with a solution that will work with everyone.”
The specific allegations being made (one of which being that a current employee of Rec and Parks used to be president of a children's soccer team, and thus gives that team better access to soccer fields) are denied by all accused, and definitely have the feeling of parents and coaches living vicariously through their children.
And this all follows on that 2014 dustup in which some tech bros tried to go toe to toe with some local soccer-playing kids in the Mission a conflict that also served to highlight the shortage of soccer fields across the city.
Regardless of the veracity of the allegations, Rec and Parks has put the SFYS league on notice — if they can't get it worked out, and quickly, the department intends to bring in some grownups to resolve the dispute for them. In the meantime, perhaps a timeout is in order.