What Defines a Geographic Area?   Leave a comment

Milwaukee:  city, county, metropolitan area?  Which definition would you use?  Which one should be used when discussing the place of girls’ and women’s soccer?

By most accounts, the Milwaukee metropolitan area (defined as Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, and Waukesha counties) does quite well in terms of qualifying teams for the state tournament in girls’ soccer (made up of eight teams in Division 1 and four teams each in Divisions 2 and 3), as the following numbers indicate:

2012:  5 teams (three in Division 1, one in Division 2, and one in Division 3).

2009-2011 state tournaments: Fluctuated between four and six, including four of the eight participants in Division 1 in 2009, and most years involving a team in each division.

These statistics hide something though, namely that only one of those teams in each of the four years resides within Milwaukee County (Divine Savior Holy Angels in 2009, 2010, and 2012; Whitefish Bay in 2011).  On the heels of my most recent post, one might not think that the rest of the schools in the county would be in a similar struggle to compete, but the economic resources in the area have not just slipped outside the city limits, but have crossed the county borders as well, with cities and school districts in the other three counties making up most of the remaining entrants at the state level and a larger-than-average proportion of the area’s college soccer players.

At Milwaukee United, we define “Milwaukee” from a county perspective, doing so based on its population size (approximately 950,000, with the city of Milwaukee making up around 600,000 of that).  A community of that size makes for a reasonably robust player pool and potential fan base.  Were we to add in the surrounding counties, it would create a much more unwieldy player pool (for instance, a partial scan of 2011 NCAA and NAIA women’s soccer rosters found 60 players from Milwaukee County but almost 180 total when the other three counties are included), would defeat one of the club’s main purposes (shining a light on local talent that maybe gets overlooked due to where they play high school soccer or their inability to afford club soccer play), and would untether the club from its central defining location.  In contrast, FC Milwaukee (the local giant in the club soccer game) plays in Germantown (Washington County) and is based out of Butler (Waukesha County).  Even though we are most concerned with expanding opportunities for girls and women within the city of Milwaukee, the county as a whole has a very similar ceiling on it, whereby if you do not play for FC Milwaukee and/or attend DSHA or Whitefish Bay, forget about the possibility of a Division I playing opportunity.

Is this standard too limiting?  Is the problem one which has no easy solution?  I know there is enough talent within these borders to stock a team in either women’s soccer league we will consider for 2013, and to quote one of my brothers in arms, we should dare to be different.

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Posted June 10, 2012 by Scott in Uncategorized

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