Culers all recall the Barça baby boom of a while back, and how stunned a fan base was that players actually … actually … shudder! … liked girls and had sex and stuff.
The illusion that all they did was train, practice, then go home, do rondos in their backyard then enter a hermetically sealed chamber to watch match video until the next time battle and duty called was shattered. If they had babies, they probably even … gulp! went to dinner and stuff. And stayed up past 8 p.m. And … my head!
Neymar announced the debut of his Neymusico (Neymusic was taken) company, which will kick off with a music single to be released this Wednesday. The bleating and moaning from the fan base, of course, was predictable. He isn’t serious, another Ronaldinho, how dare he announce it the day after a loss, etc, etc. These objections are all misguided, for many reasons, all of which are interesting.
What does a player owe his team and a fan base? The former, he owes everything that he can muster. To the latter, nothing, because that group derives its satisfaction from what he gives to the team. During my job interview with my current employer, I said something along the lines of, “When I am here, I am here 1000 percent. When I am not here, I am not here 1000 percent as well.” That is my job. Every day I strive to be the absolute best that I can. I read, I study, I brush up on changes in the AP stylebook.
But I also have hobbies, including cycling and weight training. As long as those hobbies don’t interfere with me being the absolute best that I can be at my job, t’ain’t nobody’s business what those hobbies are. I had a crash once that left me with pretty much no skin on my ass. I went to work, and typed kneeling down at my desk. Because that’s the deal.
Iniesta has a vineyard. Messi has all kinds of businesses. Pique has poker, a video game enterprise and other things. None of these have interfered with them being the best in the world at their positions, just as Neymar is the best left winger in the world. When Iniesta started his vineyard, nobody said, “Boy, hope he doesn’t stay up late, sampling the latest vintage from the vineyards,” or worried about opening night degustations becoming a grape-tinged debauch.
People muttered about Pique and him being serious, mostly because like Tom Brady in American football, come ON, dammit! You can’t be young, already rich, talented, married to Shakira AND play poker. We have to draw the line somewhere, playboy. Now that Pique is killing it on the pitch, nobody has anything to say about his poker.
Nobody ever has anything to say about anything that Messi does. So we can leave that where it sits.
The Neymusico announcement sparked eye rolls from this chair for two reasons: 1. His detractors, misguided as they are, don’t need another reason to take after him; 2. The Neymusico P.R. photo has him sporting Beats headphones. Clearly his auditory discernment isn’t as good as his ability to play football.
Comapring Neymar to Ronaldinho is ridiculous. Ronaldinho shortened his career by not caring for the temple. He partied, stayed out late and didn’t show the necessary diligence to ensure that his top-level career was as long at it could possibly be. Neymar is going to a recording studio and singing a damn song. If he manages to deal with that taxing activity never mind multiple takes, let’s just hope that holding a microphone and singing won’t damage his devotion to getting kicked in the legs for 90 minutes while trying to make magic.
For a modern game, football supporters have rather antiquated notions about what players should do. Neymar is young, rich, handsome and one of the most popular athletes in the game. He’d be a fool if he stayed home knitting tea cozies until the next match. But people will seek some sort of proof in his decision to do things, because of the odd perception that still lingers about the player. He changes his hair, and people snark that he isn’t serious. He posts something to Instagram, and eyebrows shoot up (leaving aside that the likes of Messi and Iniesta also use Instragram). Everything that he does is scrutinized with an eye toward the “A-ha!” moment where he is revealed to be the n’er do well Robinho II that so many crave.
It’s a damn single. If you want to laugh at the single if it sucks, knock yourselves out. But if you want to rip at the dude for having a hobby, and performing the ardurous task of standing around holding a microphone? You’re misguided.
As for when the announcement happened, ther are layers of P.R. machinery in place, that have been in place for some time. Why would a player say “Whoops! We lost! Let’s wait for a suitable period of mourning before making this announcement. Call everything off.” It’s one match, the third match of the season. What is a player supposed to do after a loss? Ritual disembowelment? Self-flagellation? A black armband until the team wins again?
To fans, particularly Barça fans, a loss is the end of the world. To a player, it’s a bad day at the office. You resolve to go back to work tomorrow, and not suck as much. That’s all that you can do as a professional.
If Neymar wants to have a music career, so what? If and when his performances on the pitch begin to suffer (he was far and away the best player in attack against Alaves), his coach will deal with it, and people can scoff and snark then. For now, it’s probably worth understanding how you would have been if you were 22 years old, worth countless millions of dollars and an international celebrity. My guess is you would have had a hobby or two.