January 8, 2013
ONE PROUD COMMISSIONER
Garber: We have players who don't need to be asked to do these sort of things
By Michael Lewis
NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Given what FIFA Sepp Blatter said in a recent interview about his disappointment in Major League Soccer's supposed lack of growth, it was a no-brainer what event commissioner Don Garber was going to attend.
He chose Soccer Night in Newtown over the FIFA Gala Awards ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland on Monday night.
In fact, he was one proud and beaming commissioner watching the proceedings at the Newtown Youth Academy Sports and Fitness Center.
"It starts with one of the things I'm proudest," Garber said. "We have players who really don't need to be asked to do these sorts of things. We probably had to turn away 20 or 30 players because we couldn't accommodate them on such short notice. The minute they found out about it, 40 MLS players raised their hands throughout the league, the U.S. and Canada. 'So what we can do to help?'"
The players did it on their own volition.
"People ask me all the time, 'What do I feel best about it?' " Garber said. "We love the stadiums. We love the fact all the games are televised. But what I really love is that we have guys who do this and are not getting paid. This is their free time. This is their off-season. and that speaks to the character of what the American soccer player is all about."
Garber admitted there was no one special moment for him on Monday night.
"The special moment is that you really don't know who has been affected by it because they are all just so happy. Kids' families signed up. You don't look at one family and say that one has been more affected than the other. The whole town has to live what is a new normal and that new normal is that their neighbors have been very, very, very severely affected by this. Whether it was the police officer who had to come into the school or itís a family who lost a loved one, everybody has been affected the same way.
"And for me, when you see them out there getting autographs or playing soccer, you wouldn't know. I think that was our point."