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Robin van Persie In No Jewelry Crisis


Apparently the clock is ticking on Robin van Persie. Is he dying? Is he critically ill? Is it his family? Nope, it's the fact that Arsenal and Holland haven't won him any necklaces. I detest this line of thinking - they're preemptively dismissing van Persie's career as less valuable because he hasn't won enough trophies. In van Persie's case, I can see an argument being made for dismissing his career because of fragility - this was his first more-or-less full season in his Arsenal career (38 appearances, besting his 2008-09 appearance record by 10 games) and that, more than anything else, has hindered his pursuit of medallions - but not simply because of a lack of winning things.

The list of stellar players who never won anything is very long in every sport - in English soccer, look no further than Matt Le Tissier, who played his entire career with Southampton, who was the first midfielder to score 100 Premier League goals, who only ever missed one penalty in his career (48 taken, 47 made), and who made a grand total of eight appearances with the England team and whose Southampton team never really troubled the top of the table at all. Closer to home, you have Dan Marino who never won a Super Bowl, the Stockton/Malone combo who never won an NBA title, and Ted Williams, probably the greatest hitter ever, who never won a World Series.

Do those players have diminished legacies because they never won a trophy? No, they don't. But they had the advantage of playing in a non-24/7 news cycle, and in an age where the "average fan" didn't have as much voice as they do now, and thus were able to do their jobs without being judged at the end of every season as a failure because they didn't "win the big one".

One thing that bugs me about modern sports thinking is the fact that people seem to think that championships are the birthright of great players, and if a great player doesn't win a championship, that player isn't really all that great after all. The reality is that playing elite professional sports is really, really hard; every league only has one champion every year, and it takes an unbelievable amount of hard work - and not a little luck - to be at the top of that mountain at the end of a season.

So please, Guardian, and everyone else - try to stop judging players' careers by how many plaques they have on their wall. Robin van Persie is a stellar player who will hopefully go on to several more healthy seasons, and also hopefully maybe a championship or two; but if he doesn't, he's still the same fantastic player we saw this year and want to keep seeing in the next several.