• Peter Miller

SGG #123: Pulitzer-winning sports journalist George Dohrmann on the USA soccer pipeline

George Dohrmann is senior managing editor for enterprise and investigations for The Athletic. Previously at Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, where in 2000 he won a Pulitzer Prize, he is the author of multiple books. Play Their Hearts Out, George’s book stemming from a ten-year immersive journey with an AAU team, was winner of the 2011 PEN/ESPN Award and was named by GQ as one of 50 best books on literary journalism.

On this SGG episode, we discussed:

1. There’s a picture of you coaching kids in soccer on your website. Do you coach? What’s your coaching style? (2:40)

2. What drew you to the topic of your new book, Switching Fields? (5:25)

3. Historically, what have been some of the signature differences between how men’s and women’s developmental systems have worked in American soccer? (7:47)

4. How UNC coach Anson Dorrance created a successful soccer program (10:27)

5. What was noteworthy about the development of American soccer in Southern California? (14:30)

6. Why have there historically been so few Black soccer players in the USA program? (20:40)

7. Who else has been left behind… and why? (21:30)

8. You documented some really horrible coaches in PTHO. But it sounds like you’ve found hopeful coaching models in these years that’ve followed. In soccer, what are the promising youth coaching practices that you’ve found? Would these translate across sports – including to youth basketball? (25:05)

9. Latino influence on coaching (29:10)

10. You’ve long been advocating for “junior NBA/WNBA leagues.” Why? Is this a logic of talent capitalization? How can we concurrently democratize healthy, high-level sport opportunity? (34:20)

11. Looking back on what you know now, would your analysis of the PTHO kids’ world change in any noteworthy ways? What are the “big questions” we should be asking to make youth sports better in the US? (39:53)

12. What would he do differently if he could do Play Their Hearts Out again (43:10)