If you have turned a blind eye to the conspiracy theories and accepted that the Jermain Jones blind draw occurred as reported, and this is simply an #OnlyInMLS situation. You are wrong. Commissioners of US sports leagues, as well as world football, have relied on coin flips, blind draws, and lotteries to “randomly” and “fairly” determine outcomes.
The making-it-up-as-we-go-along nature of Major League Soccer has always alienated, agitated and, frankly, insulted fans. The lack of greater media focus, a die-hard fan base that likely numbers in the low six figures, and virtually no interest from Las Vegas bookmakers creates a fertile breeding ground for shadowy policies and open-ended rule books. Ultimately, this leads to no major decision by the league to be without its conspiracy theorist and hyperbolic criticisms.
A league, and not the player or the market, determining a veteran’s, (dare say Free Agent) such as Jermaine Jones, future employer via a random selection process is unique. However, coin tosses have been use to decide the faith of numerous players entering a professional league in the past. The National Basketball Association used coin flips, starting in 1966 until they implemented the lottery system in 1985, to decide which last place team in each division received the first pick of the draft. We can all be assured Jermaine Jones over the next season and a third will not have the same impact as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson or Hakeem Olajuwon. Of course that doesn’t mean Fire fans aren’t taking it worse than the fans of the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls, or Portland Trailblazers, respectively.
So the Jones decision was not technically a coin toss, only statistically. It has been reported that the New England Revolutions offered a slightly higher contract to Jones compared to the Chicago Fire. Did that higher bid include a frozen envelop? Why not televise the selection? Perhaps Mike Abbott, President & Deputy Commissioner, could put giant logo cards into a giant translucent hamster wheel and allow Commissioner Don Garber to pick a card?
No, that would be too cool… And questions would still arise.
Is it the most egregious use of a blind/random selection process to resolve a conflict? No. Sorry, MLS haters FIFA has had worse. In 1954 World Cup qualification Spain played Turkey, the first two matches concluded in a draw on aggregate and the third match in a neutral field in Rome finished 2-2 after extra time. According to official FIFA history, “A draw at full-time was resolved by a 14-year-old Roman boy called Luigi Franco Gemma. Luigi, his eyes blindfolded, drew Turkey from the lots, creating the first sensation of the tournament as Spain went out…”
There is plenty of space for conspiracies and complaints, however while the blind draw is #OnlyInMLS, random outcomes chosen by outside forces has a price of admission in most sports.
This Week’s Throw-In:
- Last weekend MLS clubs that traveled for CONCACAF Champions League finished 0-3. Despite facing teams that played mid-week MLS matches.
- FC Dallas got 3 points despite losing Blas Perez to a second yellow card late in the first half from a poor call by Ismail Elfath. Dallas got Elfath’D, looking at the many before them… only they have survived.
- I attended my first CONCACAF Champions League game, New York Red Bulls v. FAS of El Salvador. The biggest take away: we should give MLS refs a break because we really are fortunate… except for Elfath, I’ve seen too many bad CCL refs to so quickly change my opinion.