The sport blogs are abuzz with the news of Barcelona’s superb home victory yesterday and it has me thinking of what happens when a person truly has “skin in the game.” It raises two questions for me: Can people you hire ever fight as hard as people who are defending their homes? And, doesn’t this also hold true for actual wars, like the ones we are involved in across the globe?
When I read Tom Adams’ review of yesterday’s Barça – Real thrashing, I stopped on his great line, “The school defeated the bank.” He is talking about how Barcelona’s squad is chock-full of players who grew up inside its system, while Real buys much later in the chain of development, purchasing players in their 20s and already considered among the best in the world.
Then I thought back to the previous post that included video from a biography of Iniesta. To me, the entire clip was colored with his wistful look back at life. When he left his family at the age of twelve, it is clear that he was broken up over it. (“It’s a brutal change, and it took a lot for me to adapt, but with teammates and people I met, it got better. . . The decision was complicated. It seemed the world was ending.”)
He almost went back home, and credits his mother as being the sensible one who convinced him to stay and give it a try.
In yesterday’s game, with Barca already up 2-0, an altercation broke out when C. Ronaldo shoved the Barcelona coach Guardiola:
Jumping into the fray were Busquets, Xavi, Piqué and little Iniesta. All grown and raised at La Masia. Busquets’ father also works at the club. For Madrid, Pepe joined them in 2007. Ronaldo and coach Mourinho joined last year. All of them and most of their teammates (Iker notably excluded) signed for millions of dollars after distinguishing themselves elsewhere.
Do you think the Barcelona players work harder, and defend more bravely, when their livelihood is tied in with their homes? Does it make a difference that they spent their childhoods with the club and view their coaches as father figures, compared to a bunch of millionaires for whom Madrid is a fat payday? To me it’s more than the school defeating the bank. It’s members of a family fighting against a bunch of hired hands. Soccer is still only a game, but I think you play the game differently when you can connect your team with your friends, your family, and the place where you grew up.