Men’s sports are in trouble. Period.
Consider little league sports. It’s about fun. And ice cream with sprinkles. And obligatory, hollow plastic trophies at the end of the season.You can see the hope in their eyes.
For example, today, the NBA announced it was cutting 11% of its workforce, pointing to a (possibly manufactured) financial problem with the owners. And the owners are threatening to lockout the players. The NFL is in jeopardy of canceling the 2011 season while players demand more money. And the Major League Baseball stars who should be honored to be part of the All Star Game seem to all have debilitating “soreness” so they can’t play, or at least until the stats are counted again.
Somewhere, it got out of hand and it feels like it came to a head this week. The glimmer of fun and hope in the players eyes has gone dark. Stadiums owned by Jerry Jones and the Steinbrenners are turning from parks to small cities with budgets to match. Players are no longer sportsmen; they’re entrepreneurs. They’re bargainers looking for the best deal possible. They’re Lebron James.
I once heard that you should never take money for something you love to do, or else you might not love it anymore.
But, then looking beyond the players and owners counting their piles of fan’s money, there’s a real sport. With real athletes. And real passion for excellence. It’s women’s soccer.
This week, some of the most exciting soccer the United States has seen in a decade happened. And it wasn’t about endorsements, or hundred million dollar contracts, or putting personal stats ahead of their teams.
It was 21 incredibly talented athletes who had little on their mind except winning, representing their country, and having fun.
Many in women’s professional soccer make under $20,000 per year and work second jobs. Because it’s not about the money. It’s a love of the game, and the incredible honor to do something they love beyond graduation.
Yes, this week men’s sports are in trouble. But, there’s a team that exemplifies everything you would have expected from those kids after 20 years of practice. It’s the USA Women’s Soccer Team.
And it’s truly sports at its best.
Just look in their eyes.