Peter Ueberroth -- the Southern California businessman who made the 1984 Olympics a brilliant success, served four and a half years as Major League Baseball's commissioner, led the “Rebuild Los Angeles” project after the 1992 riots, and served as chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee -- has strong feelings about soccer.
Ueberroth said in an appearance Thursday at the University of San Diego that he “would give up everything” to make soccer the No. 1 sport in the United States.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune's coverage of the event, Ueberroth's response to a question about public-private partnerships in sports:
“If I could wave a magic wand, what I would do, if I had a magic wand, I would do only one thing to sports. I would somehow take the sport that the world calls football and I would make it No. 1 in our country. If I could do that, if I could do it, I would give up everything. I would throw everything on the pile if I could do that one thing. So everyone knows what I'm talking about, I'm talking about soccer. The sport is so terrific.
“The NFL dominates and college football dominates, takes 70 percent or something of all the economics, but I would put soccer on top because everybody's kid can play soccer and it's not a size thing. The best player now is 5-foot-9, an incredible athlete, but the whole body learns to do stuff, and you can play it all the time, and it’s the dominant sport in the rest of the world.”
We're assuming Ueberroth is referring to Lionel Messi -- Cristiano Ronaldo, the other player in the world's-best discussion stands 6-1 -- and he's not even 5-9. The Argentine attacker for Barcelona is listed at 5-7 and is really an inch or two shorter.