The Great American candidates? Landon for Pres.
Landon Donovan may run for president of the United States Soccer Federation. That’s according to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl- who many (including me) think should also consider running.
Great! With the US Men’s senior team failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next summer, it’s time for new leadership.
In many countries, the pressure for the soccer chief to resign would’ve been too intense to deny, it would’ve happened on the evening the failure to qualify was a done deal. In Argentina, they had barricades ready for riots outside the FA’s office in the event Lionel Messi’s golden boot didn’t scored three times to ensure La Albiceleste’s Russian bid.
The US is different. We’ll quietly concede the USSF is run as a business first, one with reportedly a $140M surplus, and then a competitive juggernaut. If that weren’t true, maybe we wouldn’t enjoy the TV coverage, record-breaking MLS attendance, and great pay for our senior players, men and women (minus the whole pay equality part.)
But so far, few besides a Boston lawyer with some soccer groundwork have declared their intent to take on Sunil Gulati, architect of the business growth of USSF, the FDR of US Soccer. And the deadline is fast approaching.
What’s the downside? Why aren’t even more great candidates — people accomplished in other areas with an appetite for leadership — running? There’s always one.
It’s partly how secretly complex the election process actually is (Soccer America’s summary). For USSF, it may be mostly that the president is an unpaid position. That has already turned respected former players from Julie Foudy and Kyle Martino away. I’d love to see Carlos Bocanegra- former USMNT captain, architect of Atlanta United’s fast rise- take a shot. But unless he embraces soccer’s legendary corruption to find, ahem, alternative income sources, he can make more money in the club’s front office.
There’s always a downside. It’s the same reason we had 19 candidates on stage at one point in 2016, screaming past each other in televised train wrecks, vying for the Republican presidential ticket, without, arguably, a standout, accomplished, multi-faceted, great American leader ever having a serious chance to win the nomination. And somehow, only two challenges, at most, on the other side of the aisle, willing to take on the foregone, presumptive nominee. Arguably, that is. It’s a subjective case.
Where are the Great Americans running for major offices? Is the juice not worth the squeeze, the immense pressure and scrutiny that comes with merely running for office in the digital, dirt-digging era? Is the pay too low?
In earlier days in America, they ran for office. War heroes and freedom fighters. Inventors and teachers and journalists and ranchers and engineers and academics. Founding fathers and architects.* Major caveats to what could’ve been a broader definition of Great, obviously.
Do business leaders from Bill Gates to Oprah to Sheryl Sandberg know they can make more of an impact through their own initiatives and philanthropy? Michael Bloomberg paid a lot of money to conclude that if he ran, despite his rare business + civic achievements combo, he’d further divide the electorate, and cause an unfavorable outcome. (Oops.) Lebron James knows he could inspire people as president, per this week’s GQ interview, but that he doesn’t need the office to do that. Mark Cuban, among others, is mulling a run. What will deter this outspoken but accomplished Great American?
A writer or an all-time great player. I’d gladly consider either for the next USSF president, assuming they challenge Gulati. And assuming I had a vote. Which I don’t.
And if not…Landon Donovan for President in 2020?