The Opportunity Costs of Bobby Boswell
Bobby Boswell has a new post up on his salary, and there's certainly a desire among MLS/DC United types to highlight his remarks. While I don't dispute a single word from our boy, and I'm not asking him to talk out of school, I can't quite accept the rosy picture he paints.
Says Mr. Boswell:
The bottom line is that D.C. United offered me a great deal this past off-season! I just decided to turn it down for personal reasons...I didn’t play soccer in high school or college because I thought “Man. I would love to make X amount of dollars one day.” I thought, “Man, that has to be awesome to represent your country on the biggest stage in the world.”... And when you’re along for the ride, it isn’t about money. It is about experiences and everything that goes along with those experiences!
Do I doubt that Boz plays for The Love [of the Game] (TM)? Not at all. But the strong implication of this post is that Bobby turned down more money because it was somehow unfair that he get more money for doing what he loved. And to that, I say horse-hockey. If that's truly his reasoning, then his agent should be fired and those closest to him should slap Bobby around a few times to reverse engineer whatever head trauma has impaired his financial senses. To simply the pass the money up is a silly, stupid decision, given the potential for injuries and the like.
What is far, far more probable is that Bobby and his agent have confidence in his ability, and think they can get a better deal after another solid year than they were getting right now. Why be locked in to a five year contract at $70K when you can give up one year (or about $40K) and maybe get a contract worth $100K/yr or more, and perhaps some flexibility regarding transferring to Europe? It's a gamble, but a sensible one. You pay the opportunity cost to preserve flexibility, and perhaps additional leverage, later on.
Am I upset, as a fan of United, and as a fan of Boswell, by that move? Hell no. But the tone of the existing post is, I think, a bit misleading. Especially to those that may not have the future flexibility of Boswell, like, say, Devon McTavish. Should Devon be happy at $30K a year, just because he's playing a game he loves? Should he be shamed into accepting a lower salary because of The Love (TM)? Again, hell no. Devon has every right to try and wrangle out as much as he can. And DC United has every right to try and manage their salaries to preserve cap space and profitability.
I admit this is probably a bit hypocritical of me, given that I love writing this blog, love reading other soccer blogs, but look down a little on those blogs overrun with advertising. However, I'll be clear, while I do this blog for The Love (TM) right now, if the right offer came along I would sell-out in a heartbeat. Of course, there's a lot that would go into the concept of the right offer, but there you go. And I certainly don't expect that because I love this blog, others should blog for free if given the opportunity to make some cash at it. Same rules.
So let me say this: Bobby, while I appreciate your love for soccer, and perhaps understand your discomfort at talking about the monetary value of entertainment and sport, it's okay man. We're not going to think less of you if you wanted to make more money, or thought that turning down United's offer was a way to get more money in the long-run. We're adults here (okay, I'm 29, but close enough). It's a business too, and we understand that. And I'd hate to think that some poor developmental player was reading along and thinking "Well, if Bobby's saying I should be happy with 30K, perhaps I won't negotiate as hard for 50K as I otherwise might." I think that line of reasoning is fallacious, and potentially dangerous.