Op-Ed: Confessions of a Monster

I know what it's like to be hated. I have been cursed at, yelled at, glared at, shoved, and ridiculed.

I have been called every name in the book, and some that had to be added to the book. An appendix, if you will, to catalog ground-breaking invective.

While I have not actually been spit upon, there have been one or two close calls. I've had plastic cups of beer thrown on me nearly a dozen times. My car has been keyed.

I have been threatened. A few of those threats were made good.

All because I had one brilliant idea.

My name is Dave Corelli, and I cram new hats onto athletes' heads when they win a championship.

It's the perfect business model, really. Identify a problem that no one wants to solve, and find a way to solve it efficiently. The problem in question had been plaguing professional sports for years. When a team clinches victory, hundreds of cameras watch as the players descend upon one another in a jubilant heap. The moments that follow are not only seen by millions, but played and re-played, again and again — on TV, on the Internet, on DVD. But what are they wearing? Their uniforms. It's the most marketable 15 minutes in sports, and the fans are seeing the same jerseys & caps that they've already bought.

Official championship merchandise is nothing new, of course. But for years, league officials and team owners alike stood by helplessly as their teams had fun without them, waiting patiently for them to calm down before giving them new merchandise to wear for the trophy ceremony. As much as they wanted to, they just couldn't bring themselves to intrude upon the players' hard-earned moment of triumph.

That's where I come in.

You see, I don't have that problem.

When the clock hits :00 or when the last out is made, my crew and I swoop in, our arms laden with freshly minted apparel. We see to it that the players are wearing the new items as soon as conceivably possible. Did you enjoy watching the Phillies win their first World Series title in nearly 30 years? Then perhaps you saw us, pouncing upon the celebration. Hell, we got there before the bullpen guys did.

How do we do it? Reflexes, conditioning, and discipline. I recruit many of my employees from the armed services, special ops in particular. We train year-round, because no matter the season, someone's big game is around the corner. We are proud to count among our clients the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and MLS. We recently contracted with the NCAA for both March Madness and the BCS title game. We have even received phone calls from some of the bigger high school football programs, mainly in the South.

Many innovations in the field of championship merchandise have been my doing. It was my idea, for example, to introduce a line of gear for every level of playoff victory — when the team clinches a playoff berth, when they win the first round, when they win the second round, and so forth. Sure, most of it ends up looking ridiculous, but it's a nice way for the league to hedge their bets on the losing teams. And of course, it was me who starting handing out baseball caps to all teams, regardless of what sport they play.

Considering how voraciously people buy the stuff, one would think that I'm doing them a service. Sadly, this is not the case. At parties, when I tell people what I do for a living, I get the sort of horrified looks usually reserved for arsonists. It's as if I had told them that I fire babies out of a cannon into other babies. A few years ago, my wife asked why I don't just make something up so I don't have to deal with it. "Tell them you're an architect," she said, "it worked for George Costanza."

I once met someone who had started a crime-scene cleaning business. This was a guy who spent his days scrubbing the gore out of the carpets of murder victims, or exorcising the stench of shut-ins who'd been dead for a year. When I told him my line of work, a look of genuine pity came over him. "Well, you do what you gotta do to pay the bills, right?" He actually felt bad for me.

But here's the thing. Without me, that boring hat you bought for thirty bucks, the one that basically says "My Team Won," is instead a precise replica of a hat that was part of history. It is immortal.

Sports needs me. You need me. Just like you need the guy to clean death-goop out of the carpets.

Pity you won't admit it.

Dave Corelli is the founder and CEO of Jubilation Moments Inc., which plans to expand to Nippon Pro Baseball in 2009 and the FIFA World Cup in 2010. He is almost certainly going to hell when he dies, which can't happen soon enough.