Principles are priceless, which is why we can't afford them

Like you, I was very happy to hear that the racist Englishmen in Paris weren't real Chelsea fans, so it doesn't reflect on me as a soccer fan.  I'm just waiting to hear next that they weren't real Englishmen - although, I'm not English, so I guess their racism isn't my problem, either. 

But I am even more glad I read Miriti Murungi's article on Souleymane S. before I started jumping to conclusions about the target of the aggression.  Souleymane turns out to have entirely understandable shock and stress because of the incident, and it is honestly nothing to laugh about.  I'm glad I read that, because at first I thought the guy was a Terminator.

The guy wanted IN to an enclosed space filled with racist football hooligans who were already harassing him.  That's hardcore.  I assume in Paris that's known as mal derrière.  I don't know what his plan after that would have been, but I imagined it had something to do with avenging Agincourt singlehandedly. 

But that wasn't his deal at all.  After the fact, he's worried about what he would tell his family.  Because, again, he's a real human being with feelings and emotions.  I'd tell his family "Your dad is Batman," if it were up to me.  He didn't back down from racist idiots, and he's not letting himself be co-opted by a public relations machine.  His kids have a great dad. 

(Although the way these things work, watch it turn out that his job is making merkins out of puppy skins.)


So having the World Cup in the winter is the worst idea since God created the southern hemisphere.  Okay, I'm being a dingdong, the real issue is that the World Cup is going to conflict with the Only Leagues That Matter.  The Big Four will be inconvenienced (assuming there still is a Big Four in 2022), Fox will have to accommodate their NFL coverage, and oh yeah, Qatar is still a human rights landfill only FIFA can love.  And it's probably still a better option than Russia, who are trending by 2018 to be a very large mixture of the Weimar Republic and Bartertown.

I asked Robbie Rogers on Twitter whether, in the event he made the US World Cup squad, he would boycott either tournament.  Rogers did not answer, because, well, I wouldn't pay any attention to me, either.  The same question can and should be asked from all of us who have been basking in Sepp Blatter's glow for these many years.  Are we ever going to have the courage to boycott?  I don't mean whether the US national team will, because it's silly to ask.  When will you and I stop watching?  When is it going to be too much to stomach? 

You don't have to answer now.  We have three years before Russia, seven before Qatar, and maybe the meteorite hits by then. 

And maybe it's still possible to separate cheering for our players with what they are actually promoting and making money for.  It's very, very easy.  I haven't bought a Galaxy jersey in years over the Herbalife sponsorship, but I still attended all the games I could.  And it wasn't as if the Galaxy were going to cancel games if I hadn't bought tickets.

Well, multiply that by a billion or two for the World Cup.  The world will little note nor long remember any individual boycott we make.  I still haven't given up hope on sponsor boycotts - a handy list of targets are helpfully provided here, although just between you and me I don't see Gazprom bending.  But the tournaments are still going to go on, and the US is probably still going to qualify.  Is it enough to merely watch the games, if we promise not to patronize the sponsors...well, we'll buy the jersey, of course, because there doesn't seem to be a US jersey so hideous that we won't buy it, but other than that. 

But really, should we be sending teams to these things?  Our participation in the bidding process cost the federation literally millions of dollars, and the game was fixed.  Yes, Sunil Gulati should not have sat down at a crooked table and used the other guy's dice - that's on him, and that will reflect on his legacy.  That doesn't change the question of why we keep going to the same casino - even if it is the only game in town.


A few years ago I got some terrific relationship advice, which I would like to pass on to you, my beloved reader. 

Don't listen to what he/she says.  Pay attention to what they do.

Or, as my long-winded downer friend Scott likes to say, Action is Character. 

I bring this up not entirely at random, but as a reminder on how to read the ongoing series of apocalyptic prophecies disguised at coverage of the MLS CBA negotiations.

I know the players say they are united.  I know the players are saying free agency is necessary.

I also know the owners are saying free agency is non-negotiable.  And, I also note that the owners say they are willing to increase the salary cap and give on a lot of non-free agency topics.

There are probably a lot of fantastic reasons why free agency is necessary today, when it wasn't in 2010.  There are also probably a lot of fantastic reasons why free agency is necessary today, and can't wait until 2015.  I just haven't heard anyone give any.

Here's the other thing to keep in mind, while you're building your CBA bomb shelter.  This war is going to be over someday.  And as we transition to a peacetime economy, the players and owners are going to be, as far as we fans are concerned, back on the same page.  The players will play for MLS teams again someday, sooner rather than later. 

So if you're hoping that these negotiations will somehow demolish economic injustice, let alone overthrow an evil empire, you're not really thinking of what's best for the players.  You're using them to advance your own agenda.  Which is fine, but in this case, it's extremely short-sighted.  After this is settled, probably on Friday, March 6, the players will want you to buy tickets and jerseys and things. 

And what will become of Scott "MLS is the North Korea of the soccer world" Nicholls and Earl "Where Single Entity was supposed to be a short-term stabilizing force, instead it has evolved into a long-term profit-extracting scheme" Reed then?  February rhetoric means nothing without support in March.  But how do you justify supporting North Korean capitalism then, hm?

The players are going to trade their principles in exchange for money.  We fans are going to exchange our principles in exchange for entertainment.

I'm glad there's at least one Souleymane S. out there who will hold onto his principles, though.  Forgive us, we know what we do.