In this week's New Yorker there's an article by Ben McGrath on teen-age soccer prodigy Freddy Adu.
[Adu and friends] play FIFA soccer, which presents the odd existential challenge for Adu of playing a game in which he is an official character. “The first time I was like, ‘Wow, this is unbelievable’ – and you’re a little biased too, because every time you get the ball you try to give it to yourself, try to score every goal” he said. (Adu objects to the way he was rated by the game’s designers, however: “I’m faster than they said I am.”) Nick Scrivens [a friend] described one game in which Freddy opted to control England’s national team and Scrivens chose D.C. United – a mismatch if ever there was one. Unsurprisingly England won, but “Freddy Adu” starred in the losing effort. “Yeah, he” – the virtual Freddy Adu – kept scoring every goal for Nick, and I was getting pissed off at myself in the game,” Adu said.
The horrible thing for Adu is that the hype is killing him. And he knows the England team, so he knows about Wayne Rooney, who doesn’t seem to benefit from the “positive affirmations” that Adu is learning. But Rooney really is playing at the top level, unlike poor Freddy.