DISCLAIMER: I am a very complex individual, with both altruistic/selfless and baser/selfish thoughts. You might be offended to the core by some of what you will read in this entry. Be forewarned, and if you want to question me on them, leave a comment here or Tweet at me (@backseatgaffer).
* Lauren Holiday has decided to retire from international competition at the age of 27 following her game-winning goal in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final against Japan. Having been a part of the national pool team for the better part of 10 years and with two Olympic gold medals and a Women’s World Cup title to her name, she has accomplished everything possible in a US jersey. You may wonder why she is choosing to leave behind the comfort of a national team contract (which will pay well into the six figures this year) when she could easily make it to the 2020 Olympics still in good form. Here’s the answer: BECAUSE SHE CAN! Holiday is probably the only player in the women’s national team pool who is capable of walking away without regard to the loss of income that will occur as a result of it. The reason: her husband Jrue made 9.9 million dollars this past year playing for the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA and is scheduled to make $10.6 million in the 2015-2016 season. They’re not hurting and she could literally play for free without it being a problem, which is why I think she may continue with FC Kansas City beyond this season or seek a playing situation that is more geographically-friendly for her. Despite my absolute abhorrence for the incestuousness of celebrity-on-celebrity romance (comprised of any combination of athletes and entertainers getting together), this is one case where the net result actually gives a person the freedom and security to live as they want, not as they’re required due to financial concerns or contractual obligations.
* Speaking about money and contracts, the current waffling amongst senior members of the US Women’s National Team regarding retirement smells to me like it has EVERYTHING to do with finances and little or nothing to do with competitive fire or ability to perform. Given that players are estimated to make around $300 thousand this year (and one can presume a similar amount in 2016 should the US win gold at the Olympics), that is a LOT of coin to walk away from at the twilight of one’s career. There is no way any of these players make a similar amount in their non-playing careers and being that most if not all of them are the primary breadwinner for their families (a presumption being that I don’t know enough about the spouses’ work to accurately evaluate that), they might not be set up for their post-NT life to deal with the massive drop in income. Even endorsement opportunities are probably tied to them being a part of the national team vs. not in the pool, so their current ability to maximize their earning potential is affected by whether they stay in the bargaining unit or not. No different than the UAW or SEIU or AFSCME, really. The next collective bargaining agreement needs to address the financial support US Soccer provides the NWSL as it relates to subsidizing salaries (e.g., $300,000 to each of the nine teams to distribute as they wish rather than underwriting specific players on each of the teams out of the central coffers) and create a more moderate scale of rewards for national team call-ups and appearances, putting the emphasis on players making bank with their club teams and bringing the women’s CBA more in line with whatever is in the men’s. Amazing that maybe 10-12 years ago, the women went on strike against US Soccer over the lack of parity in call-up/appearance bonuses between them and the men, and now we’re talking about things being out of balance the other way.