Crabcakes and Football
Or, Rodney Wallace May be a Dick, and That's Okay
I'm going to be terribly unfair to Rodney Wallace and take one comment from the Patrick Stevens profile in the Washington Times completely out of context:
Wallace lived in Costa Rica until age 9, when work brought his parents to the D.C. area. But he was already instilled with a disdain for losing, even in loosely organized games when there was little on the line.
Now, there's a difference between "Wanting to win" and "disdain for losing." Wanting to win is that healthy competitive nature I can handle, but playing, even at, say age 11 with someone who hated losing always kind of sucked. They'd whine about sides, berate their teammates, call phantom fouls. Maybe it's just the people I played with growing up in Maryland, and perhaps Rodney isn't that way at all, but it does touch on something I've been thinking about.
There's a sort of public persona that many soccer stars, especially rookies, adopt, and trot out for any half-time "talk to a player" segment. It's that sort of quiet, one-game-at-a-time, we need to play tighter, the team out here is real good sort of thing. As if they were all Nuke LaLoosh reading a teleprompter programmed by Crash Davis. As you get more time in the league, you are allowed to develop your own personality that deviates from this standard template. Ben Olsen, for example. But plenty of players stick to the basics. It's safe.
Which brings me to this -- if you were to learn, or see, another player in public acting like a complete prick, would it really bother you? I don't know. If it was a manager, or a front-office type, or a captain of the team, it probably would. Those are probably the only people for whom Character with all that the capital C implies matters. But if Rodney Wallace was someone who hated to lose so much that he would only play Scrabble with the official dictionary next to him so he could challenge "INALIENABLE" when you played it on the double word score, then I don't think I mind. As long as it doesn't affect the team, do I care if someone is overly competitive, or full of themselves, or whatever? Probably not. In fact, to be a professional player, I imagine you would have to have a ton of self confidence, you would have to be someone who others go "Damn, that guy is full of himself" after you meet him. And so the template interview personality is created to counteract a situation that probably appeals to a lot of Type A people.