United States Youth Cricket Association
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USYCA President Proposes 'Participation Bridge' For American Children, Seeks Partners

From USYCA President Jamie Harrison:

 

(In this discussion, I use the term "American" loosely, to indicate those in the USA with no cultural or family connection to cricket. I apologize for the imprecision, but no term for this condition currently exists. - Jamie)

When USYCA was founded five years ago, its purpose was to bring cricket to American children who would not otherwise be exposed to it. The idea was to begin building an indigenous player/fan base that could turn the game from a minor niche sport to something far more impressive.

In chasing this dream, we have distributed over 2,000 cricket sets to schools, and trained thousands of teachers and students. Still, it must be admitted that, in a nation of 330 million, these efforts have barely caused a ripple. A broader effort needs to be made if cricket is to go from being a curiosity to a commonly played sport.

But how? A seemingly insurmountable obstacle to our goal has been a dearth of volunteer youth coaches, especially ones who are willing to reach out to American children, of whom there may be ten in the entire nation right now. Unlike other sports in this country, cricketers expect to play recreationally into their 60s, which keeps them from giving back to the next generation as coaches and administrators. Of those who do coach, almost none consider American children as a group worth pursuing. This is a real problem.

So, it has become clear to me that if cricket is going to catch on with American children, there must be a way to reach them directly, delivering a version of cricket that is both exciting and easy to mimic. It has to be cricket that can be seen on television or You Tube, and then imitated in backyards and neighborhood parks, without the requirement of "proper" technique becoming a barrier.

(I hate the term "proper cricket," which I've come to associate with a dismissive snobbishness I sometimes see in the cricket community. It's really just an ugly way of putting down someone else's game.)

Don't think of this cricket product as a substitute for good coaching, but as a participation bridge designed to bring hundreds of thousands of American children into the cricket ecosystem, if not as junior players, then at least as the beginnings of a fan base and marketplace that can support the infrastructure and funding that US cricket so sorely lacks. I am a believer in big numbers, and am convinced that once the weight of American population demographics begins to impact cricket, nothing will ever be the same here.

And if your opinion is that American children should not play cricket until they can be taught correct technique, I disagree. Children who've come to love cricket, however that love came, can always be coached up, and some may eventually become quite good. But children who have had no exposure to the game will never be available to be coached in the first place, and are lost to us forever. I would rather have a small part of a large number than 100% of zero.

Below are links to two proposals, one for an American-friendly version of cricket that can be learned simply by watching. The second is for a television vehicle to carry that version to a mass American audience. Please read them.

If you share my vision, and want to partner with me, either in the spreading of American Cricket, or with the creation of the television product, please let me know. I am looking to build a team that can push these ideas forward, and I hope that you'll consider being a part of that team. My email is jharrison@usyca.org.

Best Regards,
Jamie

 

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