Olympics: Daniel Alves and the True Value of a Gold Medal – The New York Times

A frankly unlikely claim of clairvoyance from Carl Lennertz as regards to Lionel Messi’s signing a new contract with Barcelona. “I knew he’d re-up when his kids cried last year at the thought of leaving,” he writes. “I’m glad he chose family happiness.”

Carl’s prescience is not without foundation, as it happens. It is rarely discussed in the context of transfers — which we tend to assume are determined by money and ambition and status, probably in that order, and nothing else — but family deserves to be in that mix, too. It is often why players choose one country, or one city, over another; or why, as in Messi’s case, staying is easier than going.

That does not apply to only the finest players, either: One player I spoke with in the past few months wanted to sign a new contract, ignoring a potential Premier League move, because his daughter had just started school and he did not want to force her to make new friends. Footballers, in other words, are humans, too.

Shawn Donnelly, meanwhile, has his finger on the pulse of all the major issues of the day. “If we are going to keep calling it a ‘back heel’, then we should start calling a toe poke a ‘front toe,’” he wrote. I am currently trying to teach my son the back heel, with considerable success: He now uses it as his default passing option, like some louche South American playmaker. And it has, in the course of that educational process, occurred to me that it does border on tautologous.

And it falls to Mark Hornish to make the semiregular plea for some coverage of Major League Soccer in this newsletter. “It may surprise you to learn that the United States has a domestic league,” he wrote, with a healthy slice of sarcasm. “It would be great if you could turn your gaze on it in these coming weeks.” I will do my best, Mark. Leave it with me.

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