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SmorgasBorg: Ball boys need to grow up

29 March 8:07 pm

SmorgasBorg: Ball boys need to grow up

By Simon Borg

One final consideration before we close the book for good on the Colin Clark-ball boy incident: Isn't it time soccer gets rid of ball boys once and for all?

Take a moment to let this sink in: Soccer is the only sport that depends on little kids to fulfill a critical function IN THE RUN OF PLAY. Professional soccer allows little kids to take active participation in a game WHILE THE CLOCK IS RUNNING!

In a game in which every second counts and a quick re-start can decide a match, it's time for pro soccer leagues to go the NFL rout and swap out their ball kids for adult ball persons. And even pay them a gameday fee. Forget using these ball person positions as a promotional tool. Get someone who can do the job and have them come back for every game if they're competent.

I've seen kids wiping the floor at basketball games, but they do it during clock stoppages. Baseball's bat boy is only seen when play is dead and there's no urgency. Tennis ball kids are never performing their duties during an actual exchange that matters. In these sports there is zero pressure on the kids taking part.

It just doesn't make sense any more in soccer. And not only because most ball kids don't do their job well to begin with and often times don't even know the game (Admit it. We've all made this comment at one point or another). The issue is that they're interacting with adult players during the heat of competition. It doesn't happen in other sports.

Why subject a kid to the pressure of getting yelled at by a goalkeeper who wants to quickly take a goal kick? Why give a kid a front row seat to soccer's intense moments and some of the other colorful language that is used during matches?

No, there's no excuse for what Clark said and he's paying the price. But would he have made the same comment had he been dealing with an adult who was working the game?

If we really care about these kids, soccer shouldn't put them in the line of fire to begin with. When it comes to the pro game, the field should be rated Adults Only.