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Celebrity Slam (10/04/2017)

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Epcot red card

One of the truths that one learns from working on a weekly feature such as Celebrity Slam is that in many ways, famous people are just people. Sure, they live lives in which they are celebrated and richly rewarded, but they’re also perfectly capable of saying stupid things and behaving like idiots.

Obviously, we’re grateful for that truth – it’s part of what makes this feature so much fun to write. And it’s usually easy. However, every once in a while you get a week where there isn’t a ton of stuff worth mocking. In those weeks, we find ourselves stretching to find something – anything – to grace these pages.

Happily, we stumbled on the story of Team USA soccer star Alex Morgan.

According to reports, Morgan – one of the stars of American women’s soccer and a player for the Orlando Pride in the National Women’s Soccer League – and some of her friends somehow managed to get themselves kicked out of a bar in Walt Disney World.

Specifically, they were in Epcot Center. More specifically, they were in a pub in the United Kingdom section of Epcot Center. Details are vague, but apparently on October 1, Morgan and her crew – which included MLS players Giles Barnes and Donny Toia – were being rowdy and wound up getting into a fairly heated argument with another group of people at the pub. So rowdy and so heated that the police got involved.

From there, the group was “trespassed from Disney on Oct. 1,” according to Orange County police.

Look, we have no real reference point for how professional athletes conduct themselves when they’re out on the town looking for a good time. However, we feel fairly confident that there are plenty of less-weird places to go out for a drink than Epcot Center. We’ll grant you that you’re not capital-F Famous. We’re not particularly enamored of our soccer players here in the good old USA – at least not in non-World Cup years – but still. You’ve got some prominence. So why act like the epitome of every terrible garbage tourist who has gotten hammered on overpriced cocktails and embarrassed themselves and their families?

In some ways, we get it – Happiest Place on Earth and all of that – but there’s something seedy and unseemly and frankly trashy about getting wasted in a faux pub in a theme park and getting into a shouting match with a bunch of randos. It would be bad enough if this was the offseason, but the NWSL playoffs are starting and the Pride are in them.

Think of it like this. What if someone like Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts had gotten kicked out of Six Flags or whatever because he got sloppy and started picking fights with random strangers? Can you imagine the multitude of hot takes that would rain down from the talking heads of the world? The talk radio nutbags would be having a field day.

This is the women’s professional soccer equivalent of that. She’s a legitimate star in her sport and one of the foundational pieces of her team – a team that, again, very much needs her going forward in the playoffs. Granted, it’s barely a blip on the radar of pro sports in general, but regardless, this isn’t going to earn her many fans.

There’s no denying the pressure on professional athletes. And just because a sport isn’t as prominent in the cultural consciousness doesn’t diminish that pressure – no matter what the endeavor, you’re in it to win it. And we don’t doubt that finding ways to alleviate some of that pressure is an important component to overall success. We’re just saying that getting plastered in what is essentially a British-themed Applebee’s and making a scene might not be the healthiest way to do that.

Clearly, mistakes were made. And while it’s possible that new details may come out that will show that the behavior of Morgan and her friends was somehow justified, it doesn’t seem all that likely. This isn’t the sort of story where more details make things look better. If anything, the whole mess is going to get even worse.

One thing that we know for sure? Alex Morgan probably won’t be assuming a leadership role for the Pride anytime soon. After all this, it would be pretty awkward to refer to her as Captain Morgan, don’t you think?

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