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How Good People Make Tough Choices

By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association

Tim_for_Web-smallWe are at a crossroads and faced with many tough choices. Choices much tougher than many we have had to make before. As one member of the ENYYSA Committee charged with writing ENYYSA's return to play protocols, I spend numerous hours on webinars and looking through reams of documents from US Soccer, US Youth Soccer and 20-30 other state organizations that were writing their own return to play protocols.

Throughout all the research and work we only had two thoughts in mind:

1. Let’s get back to playing and 
2. How can we do so safely? 

After what New York has been through, it seemed to be the least we could do.

After much debate, deliberation and discussion, we chose to go with US Soccer’s return to play four phase protocol. WHY? Because based on the evidence provided, it seemed the most logical way to get us all playing again safely.

Part two of the story is my life as a soccer coach. Through financial necessity, I am forced to work as soccer trainer and supplement my income to survive. That being the case, like many others, COVID has been rough. In short, I get it, trying to figure out how the mortgage will get paid or where the car payments are coming from is zero fun and simply adds to the stress of being trapped inside your home.

Part three of the story is my innate belief in people. I typically default to the point that people will make good choices. Choices that place the benefit and health of the many before their own personal needs and desires. It is a belief that has caused me more than a few issues as I never see the bad choice coming.

I was concerned what may happen when NY reached a phase where our governor decided it may be safe to resume soccer activities. The concern was alleviated a little when I saw that he added the language that made sure the detail of how to play should be controlled by the operator – US Soccer. I never thought with all the COVID cases in New York that some soccer trainers and soccer parents would IGNORE IT ALL. But sure enough around June 28, my phone started to explode as training companies, clubs, independent trainers and concerned parents started sending me pictures of full scale practices, practices with no social distancing, no masks and parents sitting around in car parks chatting like it was life as normal.

Then two weeks later, people campaigning to go play in tournaments and summer league games. I understand the trainers running this stuff and their financial woes, I understand as a parent of three little ones how great it would be to have them busy and try to get some sanity back. What I will never grasp or understand is how people can behave like COVID did not exist and how they get to a moral place where the health and well being of the many is outweighed by their personal needs. What type of world are we creating ?

So to the title of this piece, one of the greatest books I have read is How Good People Make Tough Choices by Rushworth M. Kidder. It's a great read that I urge all to get and read. It guides the reader through many moral dilemmas and relates them to moral reasoning. For those that do not want to get the book look at the work of Kholberg on moral reasoning.


What is apparent is that many adults do not reach Stages 5 or 6 of Kohlberg’s theory and if you examine the behavior of some in society this is plain to see. I ask all to carefully consider the environments we create as soccer coaches or place our children in as soccer parents. Now is the time to be patient and sensible in the hope that come September, we can have something that resembles a regular season.