Behind the sport

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Sporting events can be some of the most memorable parts of a person’s life. There is a great sense of exhilaration and satisfaction when one witnesses a sport in person as well as a feeling of special superiority when once-in-a-lifetime moments occur. For example, everyone watched Dwight Clark’s “The Catch” or Malcolm Butler’s game-winning interception on television, but only a few thousand people actually were there.

While everyone loves to watch sporting events, not everyone loves to work at sporting events.  The average person does not have aspirations to go to the ballpark and work a camera or prepare the field but would prefer to buy a ticket or sit down in front of the television when the game is about to start.

However, it is only those who are behind the scenes – the faceless, unsung heroes working at the games – who make the events possible.

An abundance of work goes into sporting events that no one ever thinks about – work that occurs before, during and after each and every game.

The specific duties and sequences vary from sport to sport. One universal job in sports is working as a referee. Referees are also by far the most memorable of the “faceless” workers because referees are the only people on earth who get paid to get everything wrong. However, there are more people who work at sporting events.

In general, the work that goes into sporting events goes something like this: programs have to be made up for the each specific event; the field has to be properly prepared and maintained; cameras have to be properly positioned with unobstructed views; food and drinks need to be stocked in the concession stands; lights need to be regularly tested and replaced when necessary; and electrical equipment such as the scoreboard, television microphones and statisticians’ computers needs to be functioning properly and ready to go. These are only some of the pregame tasks that need to be accomplished.

Other jobs take place during games, such as manning cameras, selling food at concession stands, running scoreboards and stating the games. Other tasks include working in the broadcast van to switch between camera angles and make in-game graphs.

But work does not end once the whistle blows. After the game, the cameras and other equipment must be stored away, electrical equipment must be turned off, the field has to be treated, and players and coaches need to be interviewed. Then, after all that and more, everyone gets to start preparing again for the next game.

Hundreds of hours go into each and every professional and high-level college sports event. Without the many referees, groundskeepers, statisticians, cameramen and the host of others who put in time and effort before, during, and after games, no sporting event would be possible.

I know from personal experience how much work is poured into every game. I have grown to appreciate all who work behind the scenes, since I work in the University of Dallas Athletic Department. There are nine of us who work for the department, and there is easily enough work for 12 or 15. Our jobs may not have the elaborateness or glamour of working for the Dallas Cowboys, but we do our jobs and we do them well.

It is a shame that more people do not get into working for sports events. I absolutely love my job and I cannot wait to go to work. I cannot imagine anything better. This line of work is not for everyone, but I do hope that in the future, those of us who go unpraised will be remembered.

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