Gareth Bale practices with Tottenham Hotspur in 2010. Bale was dealt to Real Madrid last weekend.

Gareth Bale practices with Tottenham Hotspur in 2010. Bale was dealt to Real Madrid last weekend.

Say Eh, Kid: Gareth Bale, Real Madrid set another record transfer fee

Canadian clubs and athletes don't have the problems – or luxuries – that come with playing soccer, baseball, or basketball.



Look outward, Canada. We don’t get to have this kind of fun here.

We don’t get to shell out $132 million for the simple purchase of a player, nevermind his salary. (That number’s only gonna get bigger, too, guys.) We don’t get to compete on the open market and we don’t have the 24-hour entertainment cycle that revolves around athletes like Tim Tebow, Gilbert Arenas, Dwight Howard, or the blowhards who cover them. (Seriously, why do you need to have Nelly on ESPN? And, how come he made so much more sense than your experts?)

Not only did Welshman Gareth Bale become the most valuable player in soccer history (technically speaking) with yet another record-breaking offer pitched and signed by La Liga club Real Madrid (what happened to the recession, Spain?), but the deal was followed up with a return flight with a different pilot – former Madrid star Mesut Ozil was sent to England’s Arsenal for only $66.3 million.

How can clubs afford to spend more and more?

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Well, they’re making the money. the simple eye-candy-based value behind a soccer club’s logo has seemingly never been higher. As Americans get more stylish, they’ve pretend to care about the game, no doubt buoyed by Western markets in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland, all three of whom are just desperate to be taken seriously on their nation’s sports scene.

TV’s gotten bigger, too, even as it gets smaller.

The Premier League may have spent a record $983 million during this season’s transfer window, but TV revenues also topped $2.5 billion, thanks to deals with BSkyB and BT.

All this guarantees the thing every team not named Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester Unied, AC Milan, or Chelsea should surely dread (no offense, Liverpool). As the biggest teams get bigger, they can’t get smaller. The inequality grows. So does the basement, but nobody can blame anyone for not taking the money Madrid or Barca will pay them.

Nobody can blame Robert Lewandowski for craving his impending move to Bayern Munich, even though he’s in the middle of a very successful spell with Borussia Dortmund.

We’ll never again see Derby County or Nottingham Forest climb from the cellar to the ceiling, so you should watch The Damned United before Netflix kills it.

Baseball has this issue, too. The Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, and Angels are fully entrenched at the top of the pile, whether they win or not. The Dallas Cowboys are safe, even with Tony Romo.

In Canada, though, we put our heroes on a pedestal, and they can’t always afford it. Nobody’s saying NHLers are poor. In fact, they’re downright rich (for now).

Still, it might shock you to know that Sidney Crosby – the greatest hockey player in the world – makes $6.5 million less per year than cross-town Canadian Justin Morneau, the newest Pittsburgh Pirate who hasn’t been worth his dough for three or four seasons.

The Pirates (perhaps) best Canadian is catcher Russell Martin, makes the same as Crosby ($7.5 million) per season, meaning the NHL’s best player makes the same as Pittsburgh’s second-best Canadian baseball player.

How about other Canadians in the Major Leagues?

Pitcher Ryan Dempster makes $14 million a year (same as Morneau). Trail’s Jason Bay makes $16 million. Joey Votto makes $9.5 million this year, but is in the middle of a 12-year contract that will pay him $251 million by 2024.

For the most part, these guys could walk through the streets of Vancouver and get stopped less than Dale Weise, but they’re in the cash turbine made up by everywhere but Canada.

So, it sucks for our athletes. But, maybe it’s a good thing?

If you’re looking for that slacker-like silver lining, we don’t have the burden that comes with $251 over 12 years. We don’t have NHL teams split into opposite hemispheres from income inequality. We don’t have a CFL that can be ripped apart from expensive imports who will never play through their contract (although we came close). We’re comfortable, safe, and isolated from your turmoil.

Of course, we haven’t won a Stanley Cup in 20 years. So, nevermind then.

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