How did whether to stretch or not to stretch turn into a question that William Shakespeare might pose? The reason is that a lot of medical research has shown varying results for athletic performance and injury prevention with stretching.
For your own personal stretching program, it is important to know WHY you are stretching and WHAT your goals are. If you are stretching to prepare for a soccer game or to get warmed up for a 5K race, then prolonged static stretching prior to your event is not the answer. A good warm-up that raises your core temperature and mimics the workout that you will be doing is what you should be doing prior. This means more dynamic movements than static holds are necessary to get you ready for your event.
However, if trying to increase range of motion and to improve flexibility then static stretching after your soccer game or your 5K race is the right choice. Experts agree that holding a stretch for 30-60 seconds is more effective than holding a stretch for a short time. Relax into the stretch, do not fight it. We all get stiffer as we age - it is important to maintain your degrees of freedom so that you can move freely throughout your lifespan. Therefore, static stretching does a have place in your health and fitness regime just pick the right time to get the most out of stretching.