Please watch the following 5 second clip from Will Ferrell’s Acadamy Award® winning performance in ‘Zoolander’
Note his expression, tone, and inability to comprehend what’s happening before him.
These are things I can relate to at the moment.
You see, I just saw an article online that ranks the top 100 Australian sportspeople. Mile Jedinak was listed at number 51.
Seriously, am I on freakin’ crazy pills right now?!
Admittedly, these lists are nothing new and they’re not particularly scientific. They’re generally clickbait, just hoping to spark an online riot between sports fans.
Well they got me – hook, line and sinker – because I’m completely stupefied by Jedinak’s ranking.
For those who don’t know, Mile Jedinak is the Captain of Crystal Palace FC, a club in the English Premier League.
He’s not the most spectacular player, he doesn’t score many goals, and he’s known more for being one of the league’s best tacklers and interceptors than he’s known for threading a Xavi-like pass through the opposition.
His upcoming work for the Socceroos in Rio will boost his profile in Australia a bit, because Australian football fans value work ethic and toughness… two things Jedinak has in spades.
The general consensus is that if Crystal Palace are relegated at the end of the year (looking likely), Jedinak will have a number of offers from top-flight clubs hoping to enlist his services.
And he’s our 51st ranked sportsperson?
What a joke that there will be NRL players ranked above him (a sport followed by a total of three countries, none of which hold it as their most popular sport) or AFL players ranked above him (A game played by half a tiny population) or netballers, rugby union players or cricketers (Commonwealth-only sports although cricket gets a pass thanks to huge following on the subcontinent).
There are swimmers ranked above him as Australia clings desperately to the incorrect belief that we’re still an elite swimming nation.
There are athletes from obscure Olympic and Paralympic sports that, if we’re honest, no-one cares about for 4 year stretches.
There are “sportspeople” from “sports” that aren’t actual sports like sailing and snooker.
There are athletes from niche events that no-one in Australia would care about if not for an Australian doing well (See: Pearson, Sally… Evans, Cadel).
The reality is that, once again, an Aussie sport journalist has vastly inflated the accomplishments of Australians in niche sports, borderline sports (a snooker player was ranked) and locals-only sports.
I semi-forgive the journo for his oh-so-PC efforts to shoehorn female athletes and paralymic athletes into his list… it makes sense that they’re represented in some way.
But, once again, an Aussie sport journalist has glossed over the much-more-impressive accomplishments of those who work outside the fishbowl in the great big world, going up against the entire world in popular sports played and followed by squillions of people.
Here’s the crux: Jedinak can stand amongst the best football players on the planet and hold his ground. To reach that point you would have to advance through the ranks of your junior club, state side, national program, countless club sides… all in an effort to join an elite footballing competition. The same argument applies for other sports, but it is simple economies of scale: Jedinak is in the top 1% of footballers on planet earth and there are more footballers than any other sport. That HAS to count for something.