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Is Your Mission Working? Let’s look at the data

By Paul Peterson

In my previous post, I listed two missions without naming the organization they related to and asked you which one resonated more with you. Below are the actual ones with the entity included.

 Mission Statements

  1. USA Basketball sets out to encourage a culture of “basketball for life,” where whether as players, coaches, officials, or fans of the game, people will be inspired to continue their participation in the game in some way throughout their whole life.
  2. The Federation’s mission statement has been clear and straightforward: to make soccer, in all its forms, the preeminent sport in the United States and to continue the development of soccer at all recreational and competitive levels.

Now that I have listed the sports they belong to, has your feeling changed from when you read the statement without the sport named? Do you think one Sports Federation follows its Mission more closely than the other? Does one get more of the intended outcome than the other?

Here’s the question, though, that personally, I think matters the most.  Does it Equally resonate with your Customers and Employees?  Does it lead to creating a better experience for both?

As I shared in the previous post, this is Apple’s: “We believe that we are on the face of this Earth to make great products, and that’s not changing” – Tim Cook, 2019

As an Apple employee, I know I am at an awesome place working on the Best Stuff, and as an Apple customer, I Trust you to deliver me Fantastic Products!

Let’s look further into this. Which sport above do you think is succeeding in its Mission? If there was a scorecard that you could use to judge which one you think is fulfilling it best, which sport would that be?

Most watched sports in the U.S.

According to the survey results from Statista which surveyed 8,000 fans, Football (not Beckham’s Football 😊) is the most popular sport in the United States followed by 74.5% of Americans. That’s three out of every four people! In second place, is basketball, with a 56.6% following driven by the popular NBA organization. In third place, is baseball, with 50% of Americans following the sport.

The most played sports in the U.S.

If American football is the most watched sport in the United States, which is the most played? The answer is basketball. The Statista survey revealed that 26% of people between the ages of 18 and 64 living in the United States play basketball, 22% play football, and 18% play baseball.

Data from the Sports Business Journal shows that a total of 27.1 million people age 6+ played basketball at least once in 2021, 11.5 million more than baseball. Eight million claim to be core hoopsters — defined as playing at least 13 times per year — more than double the rate of baseball’s avid players.

What about soccer?

Overall, 12.6 million Americans played soccer in 2021, an increase of 1.2 million players (10%) since its 14-year low that was established in 2018. Participation has risen for three straight years.

What about Access to the Sport?

While there is a rise in the number of Americans playing soccer, the cost to play is greater than basketball and baseball. According to the Aspen Institute, the price of a typical youth soccer season is around $1,188. This cost is more than the sum of baseball and basketball and half the cost of football.

As a result, soccer’s participation rate among young people is a cycle of ups and downs that keep the sport from gaining traction. For children aged 6 to 12, participation in outdoor soccer stood at 10.4% in 2009, dipped to 7.4% in 2018, rose the following year, and dropped to 6.2% during 2020, according to the Aspen Institute.

After looking at this data, what do you think now?  Has your mind changed?

There’s no question, soccer in the USA has becoming increasingly popular, but is this mission one that can be fulfilled in a timeframe that truly inspires its Fans and the entire community supporting soccer?  Does it matter if it’s the preeminent sport in America to provide for the future well-being of everyone associated with soccer?

In my opinion, USA Basketball’s mission is so well suited and is performing wonderfully on its mission.  The facts above support it.  When I first read it, I was like bingo, that’s exactly what I think of with American basketball….it oozes that…it’s a culture!  “Basketball for Life.”  Awesome.

How can we Apply this to our Businesses?

Many of us in business today are competing against extremely large and established competitors.  Isn’t that what USA Men’s Soccer faces domestically and globally?   Aren’t we in our businesses that have behemoths we are competing against, better off being LESS focused on BIG and how BIG we are, and MORE focused on becoming Great.  Great at what we do.  Great at who we are in our communities.  Great with the people who work with us.  Great with the service we provide our Customers.

In my next post, I am looking forward to sharing with you a different approach for US Soccer.  How a Mission statement more akin to USA Basketball is better for building on the momentum gained from this year’s World Cup.

Here’s where I am headed – instead of the US Soccer Federation’s focus on competing with other American sports to increase its market share of fans and participants in America, they look inwardly to create a Culture and an Identity.  One that resonates with their Players, Fans and Community.  Look outwardly to measure success on a global basis where soccer is already the most popular worldwide sport.  Find your place there.  Wouldn’t it be a much better mission for US Soccer to include the American Spirit as part of its defining qualities and innovation as part of its core ways to disrupt its place in the global game?


Sources:
https://statisticsanddata.org/data/most-popular-sports-in-the-united-states/
https://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/en/Journal/Issues/2022/09/26/Portfolio/Sports-participation
https://www.aspenprojectplay.org/state-of-play-2022/costs-to-play-trends

Customer Experience & the USA National Soccer Team, Paul Peterson

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