Professional soccer players must constantly try to figure out the perfect balance between work and rest. With preseason, double-days and weight training, we usually find ourselves in front of the television guzzling water and fueling up for our next workout. As the foreign leagues have come to a close, soccer gets more and more difficult to find on TV. With TiVo, I can spread the weekend's games through Wednesday; however, I keep Thursday and Friday free as pivotal rest days in anticipation for Saturday. That being said, Thursday and Friday become days of preparation for the weekend.
Preparation for me usually includes researching the opposition, watching old video and figuring out what our strengths and weaknesses are likely to be. One of the advantages of having played in the league for eight years is that you get to know the players over time. By re-acquainting myself with their tendencies and introducing myself to new players, I feel like I'm ahead of the game on Saturday. These videos become my version of reality TV.
Week in and week out, the highs and lows of my friends/family and the opposition are on display for anyone with an interest. Fans of our "show" since the first season have seen our cheers and our tears. They've seen us build new homes and they've watched as the tribal council voted out two members down in Florida. Eight teams have survived all of the challenges and have been crowned champion. Fans can read our diaries, injury reports and our quotes.
This league has evolved and continues to evolve into a thing of beauty. Many people have made huge sacrifices to push the program in the right direction. Front offices, owners, players and fans have all worked really hard to make this all a "reality." I feel as though the least I can do is make sure I'm giving it everything I can, both as an athlete and as a spokesperson for the game. I've read diaries by Jimmy Conrad, Pat Onstad and Kyle Martino. All these guys work hard in the exact same direction I do. The success of this league is everyone's goal.
Everyone out here in Hollywood feels like reality TV is the death of television as we know it. Maybe that's true, but one episode of The Apprentice is more captivating to me than an entire season of Frasier. Someone told me that every person has a book in him or her. A book is a highlight reel of experiences of a person's life, and when you think about it, after the material has been edited, reality TV is the same thing. So everyone can identify with the shows.
Let's hope fans can identify with us as guys who are trying their hardest to make MLS Soccer Saturday the most exciting show on the television. There are also some contributing factors that may help us a bit. From guys in the booth like Rob (Stone), Eric (Wynalda), Max (Bretos) and Allen (Hopkins) to the crazy fans throughout the league, everyone is trying to make this a successful production.
See you next week.
– Kevin Hartman
Kevin Hartman, a goalkeeper for the Los Angeles Galaxy, will be checking in with fans all season long.