SCHMIDT: Dirty Jobs athletics style

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EricSchmidtMatt Musick has a strange job. You might even call it cruel and unusual.

Sure, most of the time he does fairly mundane things like set up for sporting events at the Al McGuire Center or oversee all of the university’s facilities. Sure, he’s just an average Joe, a grad student simply trying to fill his wallet with a few more greenbacks. It’s all well and good. But Matt Musick isn’t just your typical guy.

Musick is one of the world’s only professional soccer ball fishermen.

You see, Valley Fields has an odd architectural misfortune: There’s a big, dirty river that runs right next to it. Marquette’s hierarchy of great ideas has tried to negate the Menomonee River’s putrid mix of water and industrial waste from inflicting any damage to the soccer team’s precious equipment by erecting towering nets alongside the river. The nets are supposed to keep the balls, which are made by Nike and cost about $130, from dropping into the Menomonee’s abyss.

The nets don’t work. And so Musick comes to the rescue.

“When the balls go in the river during the games, I get in the boat, put on a life jacket and fish it out with a long net,” Musick said. “It usually happens once a game. In three years I’ve never fallen in the river.”

It would seem that along with patience and humility, having good balance is one of the job’s main requirements. Luckily, Musick balances on rickety boats like those tightrope walkers at Cirque du Soleil. Over the past few years he has become an expert at balancing. The man juggles dozens of different on-campus jobs on a daily basis, but fly fishing for sporting equipment has become one of his favorite.

“I kind of enjoy going out there,” Musick said. “I don’t think you get to do something like that with a lot of jobs. It’s a unique aspect.”

Believe it or not, being a professional ball angler is way down on the totem pole of the worst job in sports. Back in 2005, USA Today compiled a list of jobs that Mike Rowe wouldn’t even want.

The list includes shameless professions like horse racing groomer, rodeo clown and team mascot. I wouldn’t want to do any of those things, but honestly, they’re not that unfortunate. There was one job on the list that I found to be particularly miserable.

Imagine for a second that it’s your first day on the job. You get ready for work, walk into the lobby, then — POW! — your boss punches you right in the kisser. Repeatedly. Such is a day in the life of a sparring partner for heavyweight boxers. For Willie Chapman, getting bullied and bruised by world champ Wladimir Klitschko for 12 rounds is just another day in the office. And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s got to be one of the worst jobs in sports,” Chapman told USA Today. “I get beat up every day. Mike Tyson cannot do my job, he don’t have the heart. Being a sparring partner is my job, and I take pride in it. I never quit when I’m in here. I don’t care if I die, it’s better than sitting in some office.”

Chapman told USA Today that he wears his injuries — like a severely ripped open tongue he once suffered in the ring — like badges of honor. Now, I don’t think there’s much honor in making a living being a piece of meat, but at least it pays the bills. Chapman has used his very hard earned moola to take college courses and support his 10 kids — who I’m sure are all super proud that pops is a human punching bag.

If I had a choice, I’d want Musick’s job. Rescuing soccer balls sounds way better than getting assaulted by a boxer or gored by a bull.

And I bet the Nike Total90 OMNI balls that he catches routinely fetch a lot more than a largemouth bass.

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