Two things happened over the past few days that will shape the future of sports. First, Jake Paul KO'd an out of shape wrestler on a pay-per-view in front of Snoop Dogg, Pete Davidson and a giant robot. Then the European Super League was officially announced.
On the surface, those two things seem like they have nothing in common, but together they explain a lot. First, you have Paul. A young man who is pure spectacle. He grew up on the Internet, cut through the clutter and got famous making viral videos. Then he figured out how to really monetize that audience by becoming a celebrity boxer.
This is obviously not a career path that is easily replicable, but the general truth to his situation is that combat sports are their most popular and profitable when there are famous people involved. Generally, that means a fighter is some combination of exciting or interesting to go along with a certain level of success.
In celebrity boxing you get to skip the part where you toil away for years honing your craft and collecting wins to fill your BoxRec or Sherdog page. Paul just says I'm a great boxer, I'll kick any ass I come across and here's where everyone can input their parents' credit card information. And it has worked.
There's a line around the block to fight Paul becuase it's a great payday. Ben Askren made more for showing up to failspar for a minute than he did for any fight in the UFC. This is where the money is. There is no sweet science involved in this. Boxing's history can buy the PPV if it wants to watch. Whoever masterminded this moneymaking monstrosity is very pleased with themselves right now.
And that's exactly how the people behind the European Super League are going to feel. Not icky because the rich tradition of European football has been thrown by the wayside. But warm from the embrace of money. Six billion dollars to start from an American bank and then more from whoever else gets involved. For the teams that weren't included and the fans of everything that people have ever known to be true about European soccer, it will not be good. But for the owners? They're sitting prettier than Jake Paul.
There's still a chance this Super League doesn't happen. The President of UEFA said today that players who participate in the Super League will be banned from the World Cup and Euros. That should make most players pause ... but what if they didn't? What if a one-in-however-many shot at glory for god and country every two to four years doesn't compare to the kind of paycheck they could earn if the Super League takes off?
Be honest with yourself. Is there a price where proudly representing your country isn't as important as having the kind of money that will allow your children's children to live on Mars? Because that is where this is all headed anyway. What is it with this contemporary obsession with oxygen anyway?
Is it that ridiculous to assume that the ultimate goal of billionaire soccer club owners would be happy moving their teams to Mars where only they could watch them? Where relegation meant making a seven month trip back to Earth? If billionaires are racing to Mars, they must have something they want to do once they get there. I doubt they're going up there to watch Jake Paul fight, but who doesn't love a good spectacle?