A career in soccer is not an endless stream of Happy Days. No, while we’d all like to be the Charles in Charge, some things lay beyond our grasp. Luck. Chance. Fate. As fans and followers, we often project our own anger and insecurities onto players. In their defects, we see our own, yet desperately yearn for the athlete gods to overcome this weakness. They play in a simple one dimensional world of win/loss, so we yearn for them to succeed where we have failed.
Yet oftentimes fate conspires against them, just as it does against us. And we often overreact; we cross the line between discerning fan and hateful lunatic. And that’s why the Scott Baio Anti-Defamation League has obtained an immediate order from a magistrate judge that compels you to cease ridiculing Player W.
Still, how did it come to this?
Player W was quite the youth soccer prospect! The entire country was abuzz as Player W shone brightly at the World Cup tournament for youths his age. Player W smiled, Player W dribbled quite well, Player W even scored timely goals. All the major clubs wanted his signature, but Player W chose a team where he could break the starting eleven and “get games.” We deemed this a prudent move by Player W. Game experience would help him develop, we reasoned.
Yet Player W, after only a handful of bright seasons at up and coming club, then signed for established and legitimate contender club. You were at first excited – surely big club would push Player W to a new level of greatness. The coaches, the teammates, the competition – everything lined up for excellence. You were sad when Player W did not immediately start, but figured he had to bide his time, pay his dues, impress the coach, and earn the respect of teammates. His time would come, we thought.
Weeks turned months turned to years. Our attention drifted elsewhere. When the World Cup came around and he got called up, you had forgotten that he was even alive. Really? You thought. Folks considered Player W to be a mercenary. People said he only cared about getting paid. Pundits questioned his love of the sport. The bright and dashing young boy had grown into a man, but outside of our eyesight. The scarecrows’ feet left track marks on the side of his face, but we hadn’t seen him kick a ball in ages.
As the magistrate’s order makes clear, the term “mercenary” is in fact a criminal term and thus per se libelous slander. The terms “wanker” and “hack” are negative, but generally do not give rise to a similar claim. Thus, the scope of the order does not prevent you from calling Player W either of those terms. However, the Scott Baio Anti-Defamation League (SBADL) strongly urges you to reconsider your choice of words. Things have changed.
Player W has left large & contender club for a mid-sized team. Player W is playing soccer regularly. Player W has even put in a few decent performances. Player W is already acutely aware of the missteps and pitfalls of his past. Player W has lost his youth, and doesn’t need or deserve to be reminded of it at every turn.
Thus, the SBADL expects your full compliance with the magistrate’s order. They also hope that, before the next derisory comment, you will think about your own life’s mistakes and the pitfalls of fate. Player W deserves just as much empathy.