Last Monday night, WC got to see the world’s most popular game played by the world’s most popular sports team, live, from box seats, for free.
Specifically, WC watched an exhibition match between Real Salt Lake, U.S. Major League Soccer’s Salt Lake City, Utah franchise, and Manchester United, which is pretty much beyond question the world’s most popular sports team. Even Manchesters’ exhibition game in little-known Salt Lake City was watched on television by an estimated 300 million Manchester United fans. WC isn’t much of a soccer fan, but he didn’t turn down an invitation to fly for free from Boise to Salt Lake City in a private jet – a 2015 Cessna Citation Ultra, no less – for complimentary tickets to the game that included a pretty good supper, some time in the executive club and box seats.
See? Life is fundamentally unfair.
WC has friends who are hardcore soccer fans. They attend World Cup games, and plan their vacations around MSL schedules. But they’ve never seen Manchester Union live.
Real Salt Lake is an above-average Major League Soccer team, hovering just a bit out of the playoffs at the mid-point in the MSL season. Manchester United is, well, Manchester United. Manchester recently signed a player named Romelu Lukaku to a $97.9 million contract. The entire salary for the Salt Lake team is maybe $7.5 million a year. The starters only played for about 30 minutes – Real Salt Lake has a critical match against Portland today – but the locals played the Manchester United to a 1-1 tie. The B teams let Manchester score another goal, and the game was lost, 2-1. And, yes, the go-ahead goal was scored by Lukaku.
As well as the Salt Lake squad played, they were out-classed. Manchester was bigger, faster and better-skilled. It was even more noticeable when the B Squads were playing. But the game was still great fun. Being treated as American royalty – i.e., very rich – was interesting, too.
So how did WC stumble in to this deal? Mrs. WC’s nephew is the Director of Event Services for the pitch where the Salt Lake games are played, Rio Tino Stadium. The owner is pretty happy with his employee, and encourages him to invite his family to games. And authorized the use of his personal jet to get the family there. WC sends his thanks and appreciation to Dell Loy Hansen, the team’s owner and WC’s host. Generous, responsible and environmentally responsible.
Yes, WC will be donating some money to fund some tree-planting to offset the CO2 generated by the private jet flight (270 gallons of jet fuel for nine passengers, each way). Maybe it helps a bit that Rio Tinto Stadium is a green energy pioneer, with almost all of the energy to heat, cool and light it produced from renewable sources.
Thanks again to Leif and his family, and to Dell Loy Hansen. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. But it’s more proof life is unfair.