"When play becomes beset by rules ... kids can lose their natural enthusiasm and willingness to try new things" is the response exercise physiologist Michael Bergeron gave when The Los Angeles Times asked his opinion on organized soccer programs for 3- and 4-year-olds. Reporter Jeannine Stein, who even tracked down soccer classes for 18-month-olds, noted that AYSO lowered its starting age to 4 in 2004. A Herald Community newspaper report on a "pro" coaching program for children as young as 2 quoted one of the coaches as saying, "It teaches them discipline." One mother described the lessons: "It's non-stop, they're always doing drills back and forth."
-- Mike Woitalla