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The Love of the Game? Who Cares

February 1, 2011

It’s at times like these that I’m thankful for something Sonny, a Bronx mobster, once told me: “Nobody cares, John.”

Of course, Sonny wasn’t talking to me directly, so to speak. He was talking to a neighborhood kid in A Bronx Tale about “The Mick.” To paraphrase Sonny, while we might appreciate the memories they create for us, we shouldn’t care for professional athletes because they certainly don’t care about us.

Don’t you remember the good times, Fernando?

Wise words.

Today, I had to remind myself of this because my once favorite soccer player left my team for greener pastures – greener by almost $100,000 a week. It’s moments like this that make me love sports a little less.

After watching the Redskins win the offseason for the last 19 years, I can say it isn’t the money that bothers me when something like this happens. Everybody wants to get paid, and there’s always an old rich guy, whether he made his money from oil or the dotcom boom, willing to fork out the cash. Nevermind that in the same swoop of selling Torres for a club record $80 million, Liverpool bought another team’s beloved #9 (which means I’m some duct tape and a sharpie away from a new jersey) that also came with a hefty pay raise.

What gets me is that I’m not sure what happened to loyalty in sports. What happened to guys like Cal putting in 2,632 straight days of work for Baltimore? What happened to guys like Gary Williams, coming back to his alma mater to lead the basketball program out of its darkest days and hanging around for 22 years and counting?

What happened to playing for the love of the game? It’s obviously lame to think that’s still possible, but as the trend favors moves like LeBron’s Decision, seeing players commit to a team for life is probably dead.

That’s troubling for me because I’m the kind of person that values loyalty. It took me months of questionable sandwiches to leave Subway for Whole Foods made-to-order (and I never looked back. Great decision).

The point is that even though I don’t understand why players can’t be as loyal to their teams as I am, its okay because I just have to care as much about them as they do about me, which is minimal at best. Clearly Mr. Torres didn’t stop to consider how I would feel if he moved to one of my most hated teams.

In the meantime, I’ll just do some duct tape updating to my Liverpool 9 jersey and try to get over this by eating several pints of  Haagen Daz, and looking forward to a time when I can open up to another superstar athlete. For now, I just need to heal.

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