Life unfurls in a continuum, a scroll unrolling over the breadth of human history unveiling one earth-shuddering point of light in history after another. Nothing in human existence has ever occurred in a vacuum. A government buckles and the ripples wash into the New World for a thousand years. A single man crosses the Rubicon with his war machines and Europe still has not slept. Petrarch ascends Ventoux and the flame of discovery lights the braziers into the lightening future.
We are all products of these decisions, these convulsive moments that grab the earth by its scruff and pull it in one direction or the next. Whether we know (or care) why our calendar is arrayed the way it is, or why our legal names include a first and a middle and a last, or how our lexicon was shaped in history’s kiln, or whatever facts of life tie your brain into soft, doughy pretzels, we are operating on the cobbles laid into place by those decisions faded into the worn tapestry of time.
In the same way the monoliths of the past laid social, moral and cultural foundations that remain societal bedrock, everything that happens in sport is an extension of something else. Jean-Marc Bosman agitates for freedom of movement and “picked up on a free” becomes the modern day bargain rack. Johan Cruyff drops into defense and our positional morays are dead under rock and ash. Leo Messi plays anywhere, at any time, and what we thought we’d seen and what we have seen will never meet in the middle again.
Signings, too, are built on the back of their predecessors. David Beckham was the Zero AD Designated Player, the singularity at the center of a black hole expanding into infinite time devouring stars and planets and midfielders until MLS supernovas in some distant era. MLS will never be the same in the afterglow of the Beckham era precisely because we operate on a continuum. It is not a flat circle. It is a switchback, doubling back on itself as rock tumbles over the same ground trodden by our forebears.
Giovani dos Santos is an LA Galaxy player. The tremulous continuum thrums.