Well it has been an exciting week for me, but unfortunately not all of it has been good. It was a crazy work week with my companies Global sales meetings taking place here in SLC, but good to catch up with some friends from the UK. We just held a celebration of "National Employee Recognition" day, what made it cool was our presenting Olympic Athlete rings to a couple of team USA members in a stand up meeting. It was great hearing from them how important the rings are in helping them celebrate their accomplishment.
On the down side I headed out to Rio Tinto on Wednesday to try and do a couple interviews with the players, and then to help out with the sizing of them for their Championship rings celebrating their MLS Cup victory. It should have been a good day, but I was told that I was now considered "persona non grata".
It seems that when I suggested that the players union might want to stop parading wealthy players (those making over $150,000 a year) around as victims of the evil league (which one article compare to Wal-Mart), that it got under the skin of a player or two. I can fully understand that, and I know they are passionate about what they believe is best for the players, and I hope they consider best for the league as well. I have for months championed the raising of both the minimum and maximum player salaries in the league, as well as moving the salary cap up.
More after the jump:
It seems they then have "spread the word" that I am against the players, funny since I am fan who spends thousands on tickets and I have promoted the players, the team, the league, and the sport that I have supported since 1996, for the last 3 years I have done so in part by blogging..
Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis vs. grabbing a statement out of context knows that I am no fan of the MLS powers and "the Don". Heck I have on a regular basis been critical of a number of their policies and in recent weeks even called for a change in leadership of the league, but because I don't support "free agency" at this point of the league (for a couple of reason).
It is clear they players are willing to talk to the media about the CBA only when and if they can simply make their points without any questions, heck just today De Rosario did an interview about it in which the player who has made over $300,000 a year for the last several years is quoted as saying "We want to start the league but we want our just reward and we're not asking for much."
That statement would be much better taken by myself and other fans coming from players like Robbie Findley, who makes under $70,000 a year, or a Stuart Holden who was making under $40,000 before leaving the league.
I understand that the MLSPU is keeping tight control over who says what and to whom, I would only suggest that while using some bigger name players seems like a good strategy, it has a downside when they are by MLS standards (77k league average) some of the highest paid players.
It was just announced that the league and the MLSPU will meet again next week, this time they will have a federal mediator present, I hope this will lead to a new CBA and that the season can progress.
I still think that a much larger effort to grow the sport in the US is needed, and that should involve US Soccer, MLS, USL/NASL, the players, the fans, and the media. The sport that elicits such passion from both fans and players is on the verge of becoming a major sport here in the US, something that has been talked about for almost 20 years, but all parties involved need to understand that we are not there yet.
An Open Invitation
On Wednesday, I offered up a open mic for several players to come up and speak their mind, none chose to do so, but in the spirit of fairness I am going to extend the following:
If you are a RSL player (or any other team), a fan, a member of the staff, or anyone else that I have upset with my opinions or statements, here is your chance to set the record straight.
You can call me (Trey has my phone number), you can email me (both Trey and John have multiple email addresses for me), you can even create an identity and post something here.
I will in no way edit what you write on here, or if you want I will post your emails unedited as well. Heck even if you just want to tell me how wrong I am offline, go ahead. Tell me what I don't understand.
Here is your chance to have your voice heard, to talk to the fans.
That is what this blog is, a fan talking and sharing his opinions with other fans.
OFF MY SOAPBOX