There aren’t a lot of professional sports that actively employ children for roles that actually have contact with the game itself. Major League Baseball teams have their batboys. Sometimes kids or teens work the floor-drying mops at NBA games. And in pro soccer, there are often kids along the sidelines to catch and retrieve errant balls and get them back to the sidelines as quickly as possible.
Yesterday, Charlie Morgan became the world’s most famous ballboy (ever?) after Chelsea’s Eden Hazard kicked him in the guts during the Blues 2-0 loss to Swansea in the League Cup semifinal. The game was at Swansea and after the ball went out of bounds, Morgan inexplicably flopped on it like it was a live grenade, wasting precious time for a desperate Chelsea. Even more inexplicable was Hazard’s response to kick the kid (OK, he’s 17) while he was down, as the midfielder tried to get the ball back and continue the game.
Watching the video, it’s pretty clear Hazard was trying to toe-punt it out from under Morgan. But still, pretty sure an athlete shouldn’t cut it that close when child injury witnessed by thousands—and millions more on TV—is at stake. That said, as the ballboy job description goes, Morgan did a pretty terrible job.
Apparently it was all handshakes and apologies after the game, but former Chelsea striker Peter Nevin isn’t cutting the kid any slack, telling the BBC, “He’s only got one job and that’s to give the ball back. What does he do? He keeps the ball.”
It’s a life lesson more kids need to learn. Don’t do you job right and someone might come along and kick you in the guts.