Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"Robbed Blind" by Dr. Ace T. Jericho, Rogue Journalist

[from a column written while serving as a freelance women's soccer correspondent between 2001 and 2002; from The Jericho Files collection]

"Highway robbery," I said, looking up from the carton of Swedish Fish in my hand. "Mia winning the FIFA Player of the Year was unequivocally, without a doubt, highway robbery."

Anne turned from the computer monitor displaying the WUSA home page. "Is that your final answer?"

"That's not until January. Let Regis deal with Mia then. Right now, there's more important matters to discuss. Like Millie getting robbed blind by FIFA."

"I wouldn't exactly say 'robbed blind'—"

"What would you call it?" I asked.

"'Covering their collective asses?'"

"Fine time to do it. Millie was League MVP, for Pete's sake! Sixteen goals for the season. Mia only had six.

"That was WUSA," Anne said. "We're talking global."

"Global, my ass." I waved a Swedish Fish at her. "Year. Player of the Year. Millie more than deserved that award. But do they give it to her? No. The Fools weaseled out and played the Bootlicker's Song."

"Millie's only had 81 career goals and 54 assists," Anne pointed out. "How do you justify Player of the Year for her? Mia's had 127 career goals and 107 assists. That alone should count for something."

"Career points. Mia's 361 over Millie's 216. But where did that get the Freedom? Seventh place."

"Okay. Look here." Anne tapped the monitor. "Mia's most marketable. 22% of those who voted wanted Mia to represent their company's campaigns. Five percent more than Anna Kournikova and 11% over Venus Williams."

"So give her an award for Most Marketable Athlete."

"But think of what she's done for the sport over the years, how she's helped put women's soccer on the map."

"Fine. She's the Global Ambassador to the Beautiful Game, blah-blah-blabitty-blah. Give her a Lifetime Achievement Award."

"She was voted as Player of the Year by 72 women's national team coaches."

"Who probably only knew her by name. We're talking Player of the Year, not Most Recognizable Name. What is that going to say to other players? 'You did a fanstastic job, but nobody knows who you are so we're giving it to someone high profile.'"

"What's wrong with high profile? All the better, I say."

"High profile is fine for a while. But how do you expect to increase the greater public's awareness of the other players out there? Do you expect one person to carry the sport?"

"There's no 'I' in 'team.' "

"There's one in 'Mia.' "

Anne winced. "Ouch!"

I shook my head. "Forget all that talk about parity in the League. Especially if they pull stunts like this." I popped some Swedish Fish. A thought struck. "Then again, who made the front of the 2002 Women's Soccer Calender? Millie. 'Nuff said."

Anne frowned, then said: "Well...Mia was becoming the WUSA's poster child..."

"Exactly my point," I said.

"But she did get her own calendar."

My jaw dropped. "Madness! The greedy little Jezebel!"

"I saw it the other day."

"Today, FIFA Player of the Year. Tomorrow, the Calendar World. We've got to do something! It's our duty as Fans to ensure this doesn't happen again. To ensure the proper recipients are acknowledged. For Player of the Year and for their own calendars!"

Anne leaned back in her chair, arms crossed. "What do you suggest?"

"We take the judges out back and pummel some Sense into them."

"That's not going to work."

"Why not? Violence is the only sure way to get a message across."

Anne shook her head. "Poor Dolt. We're Civilized Creatures. We just can't resort to pure Violence."

"Civilization be damned!" I leapt up, spilling Swedish Fish all over the floor, and snatched the whaling harpoon from the wall. "We must make ourselves heard! Raise the alarum! Sound the clarion call!"

Anne raised the elephant gun to her shoulder. "We need a better channel for our grievance."

I stared at the twin barrels leveled at my chest and put the harpoon back on the wall. "You're right." An idea struck. I snapped my fingers, grinning impishly. "How about a scathing letter to FIFA for their gross incompetence?"

"Brilliant. You're a Professional Writer. That's right up your alley."

I turned to my laptop and started to compose.

Anne read over my shoulder. " 'Dear FIFA...' " She shook her head. "Stronger."

I thought a moment, then typed: " 'Ignorant Swine, you should be drawn and quartered..."

Anne applauded. "Fantastic! Keep going."

I love the smell of vitriol in the morning.

Come back soon for another entry of The Jericho Files!
Read previous Jericho Files entries here.

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