Playing Time in Youth Football (Soccer) Games: The Challenge of Developing Measures of Inequality and Social Minimums

By Dane Christian Joseph, Kaitlyn Harper and Sarah Tuffey.

Published by The Sport Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Playing-time is arguably the most essential reward that a youth football player can receive in order to enjoy the moral, social and psychological benefits of sport participation, develop technical and tactical game skill, as well as have the opportunity to receive socioeconomic benefits (such as scholarships) later in life. There are myriad complex mitigating factors that need to be considered in order to determine how this reward ought to be divided among team members. We consider several theories of procedural and distributive justice and investigate the distribution of playing-time as reflective of age group and gender. At younger age groups, playing-time should be based on equality of opportunity so that the less naturally-talented individuals are still receiving ample time to develop and mature their skills. At older age groups, playing-time may be more justifiably based on ability level, under the assumption that all participants have already received ample opportunities for development. The latter condition only holds at competitive levels, where the measure of success is more likely to be based on results, as opposed to participation. Although playing-time should not necessarily be considered in the same way that wealth is, we use the Theil inequality index to investigate playing-time distributions from youth football tournament games. Recommendations are made for future developments of measuring playing-time inequality and expanding this underexplored area of study.

Keywords: Playing Time, Equality, Measurement, Procedural Justice, Distributive Justice

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp.101-111. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 489.275KB).

Dr Dane Christian Joseph

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, College of Arts & Sciences, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR, USA

After playing collegiate and semi-professional football (soccer) in the United States, I obtained advanced degrees in Educational Psychology with an emphasis on Research, Evaluation, and Measurement (PhD) and Philosophy (MA) from Washington State University. During this time I began to coach women's football in the prestigious (then) PAC-10 (now PAC-12) conference. After graduating with my doctorate, I took a position teaching and coaching at Pacific University in Oregon. During this time, I was made an NSCAA Associate Staff member for the Pacific North West US region where I help educate aspiring coaches. My academic and other interests collide with my passion for football and education.

Kaitlyn Harper

Student, Department of Biology, College of Arts & Sciences, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR, USA

I am a Biology major doing research on playing time in youth football. So the question is, "why"? As a captain and member of Pacific University's Women's Soccer team, as well as a devoted citizen and champion for equality, I am vested in understanding how equality plays a part in our everyday lives. My most recent major accomplishment was a successful trip to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador for a study-abroad semester.

Sarah Tuffey

Undergraduate student, Natural Sciences, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR, USA

I am an Exercise Science major who also plays collegiate soccer for Pacific University. My professional interest is within the nursing field, but I have a fervent drive to support ethical behavior and practices in sport, and as such, conduct research in the field of sport ethics as well.