Most people put little thought into the minutiae associated with whatever sports team they choose to watch in their limited free time. Obtuse, reductionist criticisms are frequently hurled about at 140 characters a second, or in short, one-minute clips that then shape the public definition of whether a player, team, or coach acted in a manner in which they approve.
The fact of the matter is that although sport is something that isn't necessarily going to make a significant impact on your day-to-day lifestyle, it's important to remember that there's much more to a game than simply two teams playing each other. Just as there is much more to a player making it than him or her simply trying hard enough when the opportunity arises.
This seems to be the common theme with people speaking about players abroad. Often, much speculation is based on intangibles that mention whether a player will adapt to the style of play, the team, the environment, the coach, etc., yet off-the-field issues are rarely examined as a major factor behind on-the-field success. However, professional athletes are people, too. Their happiness outside of their day-to-day jobs has as much impact on performance as with any job. Often, the challenges they face are some that the majority of people would never have to fathom because of the wide range and scope that is the global game.
Rafael Ramos is a prime example of a player that has made the difficult transition abroad. Although Ramos is yet to truly make a lasting impact on this side of the pond, many would agree that he's a promising prospect and one that is welcomed back to the first team with open arms. I spoke to the Portuguese fullback last week about some of the emotions he had as a player abroad.
When asked about the struggles he faced as a foreign player: "The game here was a little different. It was a bit more physical, and as you can see I'm not the tallest," Ramos said with a quaint laugh. "But I worked my body and my strength.
"One of the difficulties was I didn't know anybody in here, it was overseas, I didn't have my parents. It was the first time I didn't have my parents. I was living just by myself."
When asked if he was scared about moving to the U.S., his answer personified the muscular figure that bombed down the flanks in a purple jersey.
"Of course I was a little bit. I was 19 years old, now I'm 21. It was difficult at the beginning, I didn't want to come, but I'm glad I came."
At just 19 years old, Ramos made a life-changing decision that took him halfway across the planet. A decision that could be ruled null and void with one ligament or muscle tear, with the only support system he knows thousands of miles away. Though it's obviously not the scariest profession, it's still an incredibly interesting perspective on a world that people often only look at from one angle.