Friday, February 4, 2011

Mama, Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Soccer Stars!

As Americans entrench themselves in tweets and texts surrounding Super Bowl XLV, a record breaking trade broke the wires across the pond on the first day of February, when Liverpool sold Fernando Torres to rival Chelsea for 79 million pounds in the English Premier League. That works out to be $128.7 million dollars here in the USA. Exactly when do our children (or maybe parents) trade in their soccer ambition for concussions?

The most popular sport in the World outside of the United States is ‘F├╣tbol’… in American lingo, soccer.  The average Soccer star playing in the English Premier League, Italia Seria, or UEFA  makes a little over 6.5 million Euros or pounds annually; In US dollars, that would calculate to 8.8 million converting the Euro, or 10.6 million converting the pound.   Cristiano  Ronaldo of Portugal, playing for Real Madrid, makes top Euro at 11.3 million, Englishman John Terry playing for Chelsea makes a cool 9.81 million pounds, speedy Brazilian Kaka makes 8.7 million for Real Madrid, my favorite Italian hottie Luca Toni makes 4.8 million Euro for Roma, and L.A. Galaxy has Beckham on loan to AC Milan collecting a cool 4.3 million Euro. To convert to US dollar value, multiply the amount 1.36 for Euro, and 1.67 for English Pound (currency exchange rate as of this article, subject to change.)

One of the most popular activities for children between 5 and 12 is Soccer! Somewhere in the development of dreams and ambition of a budding soccer tween, the desire to bend the ball like Beckham diminishes for hopes of being the next NFL prodigy,  baseball phenom, or hockey jock.  Risks of permanent brain damage, decreased life expectancy, and strokes plague retired NFL athletes, as well as similar ailments for many hockey players.  Needless to say, world footballers display a rosier outcome (unless you’re a Colombian soccer player Escobar that scored a goal for the opposing team to lose at the World Cup – he was gunned down at the airport.)

I know… I know…. I’ve heard all the arguments before, “It’s boring! Nothing happens! It’s just guys running back and forth passing a ball! No one ever scores! They flop and fake too much!” Many of us enjoy baseball (I’ve heard the same words spewed about my favorite past time); flops happen on a nightly basis in the NBA; Golf is extremely popular, although all we view are men with metal clubs seeing how accurate they can swing and hit a pint-size dimpled ball into a hole yards away;  and then (yes, I am going there) there is Hockey, which is actually a smaller version of soccer placed on ice and players are given sticks to whack a puck (and at times each other) across the ice  into a goal protected by a man in a Jason mask and Michelin padding (I can see the saliva spewing now about my latter comparison.) 

Believe it or not, there is plenty of action, strategy, and drama displayed across the pitch between players in 90 minutes. Soccer players may not literally stop in the middle of the field and end up in a brawl, but there is plenty of bumping, tripping, and elbowing exchanged between rivals and foes.  I urge everyone to spend a Saturday morning at an English pub and learn a little more about the World’s most exciting and lucrative game! (Bonus! Brits are a blast! You will never hear expletives strung together as eloquent as a bloke…. unless he is there with an Italian)

As the battle rages in our government about each side misunderstanding one another, I believe USA may be missing the boat unwilling to embrace and understand a profitable (1 in a million, mind you…) opportunity of grooming a multi-million dollar globetrotting soccer baby…  You’ve wanted to travel, right? Well….  To all the Mommies and Daddies, give your kids a chance to dream of being a Soccer Star! 

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