The lives of most pro athletes is much different than you’d imagine. We see the full arenas on ESPNs and the mansions on MTV’s Cribs, but there are scores of minor leagues and lesser circuits around the world featuring thousands of professional athletes trying to make a living off their physical abilities. For every LeBron James, there are ten Paul Shirleys out there on the courts of places like Lebanon or, worse, North Dakota. For every Roger Federer, there are ten guys shlepping around the world, playing in out-of-the-way tournaments in off-the-beaten-path cities in countries you might’ve never even heard of. Millionaires? Some of these guys are just trying to make the rent back home, if their paychecks even clear, that is.
(Congrats on winning the Tajikistan Open - here’s a vase.)
One such guy is a pro tennis player by the name of Eric Butorac. He’s the #45-ranked doubles player in the world, but that’s an honorary that only gets one so far in places like Morocco. Like many globetrotting travelers on a budget, Butorac’s got some crazy stories to tell.
Butorac is a Minnesota native who played his college tennis at Division III Gustavus Adophus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. Michael Rand of the MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE’S RANDBALL blog asked Butorac to relay some of his glamorous pro athlete lifestyle, and Butorac didn’t disappoint.
[The hotel’s] concierge directed me to this shady looking car in the parking lot. It wasn’t like I had lots of options at this point, so I jumped in. Everything was going smoothly, this guy was surely not a cab driver, but maybe one of his friends who wanted to make a buck. As we were speeding down the road, we were pulled over by a policeman. I’m thinking great, hope this doesn’t take too long and I miss my flight. The “cab driver” starts to panic and telling me what to stay to the policeman when he comes in.
Three awful tastes that do not in any way taste great together are Morocco, Moroccan policemen, and Moroccan taxicabs, but the whole story’s got them in spades. Like any good traveler, we’ve got our own horror stories like the time we were followed and subsequently confronted by the East German Secret Police (Stasi) back in the ’80s. What horrors have you experienced? Let the world know below.