A key aspect highlighted during the ongoing FIFA World Cup - players from Brazil, France, Germany, Italy etc. are all superstar players in the club leagues, with multimillion dollar salaries. They play different leagues, in different countries - but when it comes to the World Cup, everyone seems to take that extra effort to come play for their national side - I don't think they get paid much for doing so ... not to mention the fact that getting injured in the World Cup could jeopardize their multimillion dollar salaries. Yet, that does not dissuade them from wanting to play in the World Cup - its the biggest stage, and its national pride after all. I presume that for these superstar athletes, wearing your country's colors and getting a win matters more than any club game they play.
On the other hand - look at US athletes (specifically from the NBA and MLB) - their participation in big time international championships is pathetic at best. All the big superstars find their own excuses for not playing on their national squads - no surprise therefore that inspite of boasting the most incredible talent pool of all countries, the US basketball team barely won a medal in the last Olympics, and didnt even make the fnals in the World Baseball Classic (the national pastime!!).
Hopefully, this trend will change in the future ...
In the light of all this - one player who impresses me a lot is Andy Roddick - make no mistake, i aint no Roddick fan - but his commitment to playing Davis Cup and carrying the country's colors is really admirable.