Monday, June 15, 2009

Think of Your Sponsor Under all Circumstances

Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money.
--Danny Devito's character in Heist

So Brown comes by after Murad with four six packs of quality beer, and after a half hour of trying to fit them in my beverage fridge, pulls out his crisp Benjamin. I suppose his winnings from Fulton are already blown on bubble gum and new white Sidis, seen here being unsullied with the team kit (while wearing his lucky race day Daisy Dukes):
The sight of Brown's crisp bill got me to thinking about money and sport.

I played soccer for a couple of years in Mgobodi, South Africa. There, teams pooled together 200 rand (about $30) to enter a tournament. If enough teams showed up, the winning team could take home a bundle. The problem was that teams rarely had the discipline to save the winnings or use them wisely. Thus, after most games, we went to the shabeen with wheelbarrows, bought cases of Castle Milk Stout in 700ml bottles, and sat under the marula tree drinking till the beer was gone or we were.

Those were hard games; a few months' wages were on the line. I rarely played, thank God. As the only white guy around, it was enough of a circus just showing up, kids pulling my arm hair and rubbing my pink skin. We played in 110 degree heat on hard-baked clay littered with hard and soft cow pies. We sometimes played in bare feet.

Enterpreneurs set up posts and ran a 10' high sheet of opaque plastic around the pitch, and charged a 5 rand entrance fee. They sold beer, soda, and sugar-flavored ice to spectators, mostly young girls and drunk men. After a goal, girls customarily ran onto the field and mobbed the goal-scorer.

The one exception to this custom was me. Possibly, the fresh memory of apartheid provided a slight disincentive to mobbing the strage white man from the neighboring village, but I'm guessing a stronger disincentive was me being a slimy, delirious, sweaty pink mess and touching me would have been pretty disgusting.

There was something glorious about playing in the African bush. The joy wasn't in beer or the glory; it was something else. Travelling to another village (sometimes in a wagon pulled by a tractor) to play soccer proved that we were not entirely desperate, that our existence was somehow less precarious, that we were not struggling to survive.

When we rode home, we shouted songs from the back of our tractor and jumped on the bed till the tire popped, and we walked 3 kilos in the dark singing to each other about how we would win next time, and how we would not waste the money on beer but instead would buy soccer boots and new balls that wouldn't puncture in the thorn trees or when Bootsie kicked them too hard.

Our soccer tournaments convinced each other that we were not in danger of dying. In fact, this was not true. Mgobodi had--and still has--a 40% HIV positive rate among sexually active adults. South Africa has the world's worst murder rate. Life is precarious, but soccer made it feel less so.

We're wealthier and safer, but the cyclists I know race for the same reason. There is a high probability we won't die before our next race, or for the next few decades. For those of us who labor in offices or academia all day, the pain in our legs we feel when riding reminds us we're still breathing, that we're not yet dead.


Anonymous said...

You guys are definitely a bunch of intellects. I like reading your blog, unless you get started on statistics. LOL

There are a lot of professions that do just the same thing that you guys did with the winnings from your soccer tournaments. The majority of auto body repair "people" visit the bar on Friday after they get paid. Off shore fishermen usually spend the boatload, no pun intended, of money that they receive from their last haul before they go back out. In law school, one of my classmates and friends was a charter boat mate in Ocean City over the summer and he said almost all of them spent everything on alcohol the night they earned it.

I have gotten some pretty large personal injury settlements for clients and in a lot of cases the money was already spent before we settled the case. In some cases, they had already spent what they thought they "should" receive for their injuries, and you probably know how that estimate went. After that, it made it hard to even try to settle the case because they needed Y to pay off the debt when the case was only worth X.

In one PI case, the clients, husband and wife, walked away with $150,000 in their pocket. Instead of paying off the mortgage on their condo, they immediately traded in both of their Honda Civics on a BMW X5 and a Nissan 350ZX.

Some people need "things" or "stuff" to feel alive, because they just don't get that burn in their legs to let them know they are still breathing and/or that burn just isn't enough to let them know they are still breathing.

Calvini said...

I hear you on the materialism thing. People can be so damn materialistic.

Course, if I won a personal injury lawsuit, I probably would get a new Pinarello. With Dura-Ace electric shifters. Lew wheels. But that's not materialism...that's just buying quality. :)

Kyle Jones said...

Fabrizio has those material things except he wont buy shimano. How many pinarellos do you have with expensive wheels? Haha

Congrats on the win.

Calvini said...

If you're Italian, it is your God-given right to own the most expensive, sexiest, least Japanese shit on Earth. Look at the Vatican--that's like the Pinarello of churches.

Thanks for the congrats, Kyle. Was hard to know what to write, I'm so used to bitching about being too fat and lazy.