Silly Season

Guest Post: Aaron Young

With some of the biggest professional soccer leagues in the world finalizing their squads this week, it got me wondering about how this frentic marketplace effects the average fan and supporter. Let me explain, this is what many English pundits call "silly season." Unlike most American professional sports where trades and salary caps regulate a teams personnel, soccer is dominated by transfer markets, where clubs buy and sell the contracts of a player at what is deemed fair market value for the player's services. Often time the media and fan base can have a large influence on who goes where or the terms of the deal.

This brings me to my point: why do we care? Are we so invested in a sport and their stars that our sole focus throughout the "silly season" is on the market? Do we really become the Wall Street traders of soccer? Yes and no. Fans and supporters do keep a close eye on "commodity trading," but more so the everyday fan and supporter care about the club and the promise for something better. Each year we all believe our club will win it all. Few actually do. Barcelona FC has recently become the exception to the rule having won every title it competes in. The reality is that putting our faith and hopes into clubs is much like the ambition to have a better life we all strive for. And through our obession of following transfers we somehow feel more in control over our own situation. While Americans have the opportunity reflected by the pursuit of the American dream, the rest of the world can see it in their soccer club's push for success; and it's during the transfer season when this becomes most transparent to each of us.

Editor's Note: I believe there is a third-level answer to "Why do we care (about silly season)?" that, as Aaron suggests, goes beyond obsession with our favorite clubs, and fascination with the trading of players as commodities.  The most intrinsic factor that compels us to football transfers might be that there is no cultural parallel for it in any other sport, labor market or maybe even sociology.  The idea, for example, of a 30 year old Cameroonian being sold by a global powerhouse Italian club for a reported 28M Euros to an obscure Russian club that commutes by plane to its own home games from the safer confines of suburban's so culturally mind-boggling that it at least adds a layer of complexity to our annual obsession with the transfer window.

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