Monday, April 7, 2014

From the Sideline: Stadium Stories

Working in football is fun and stressful and one of the best learning experiences someone hoping to work in sports can possibly have.

The easiest way to write this post is to tell you athletes are like any other coworker and you should treat them as such.

But that’s not always true.

It can vary per sport, league, team and even individual player.

During my junior hockey internship, the interns were not expected to interact with the players. And the players were told to not interact with us. Of course, we later learned this may have been spawned from the lack of unprofessionalism from the intern class before us, but as the next class we received the punishment.

While we did our best to avoid player interaction, for some of us it was a main part of our responsibilities. As one of those interns, I became a mainstay for the guys. If they saw me, they were comfortable enough to ask me questions or ham it up for social media (they knew I had attention of about 7,000 followers).

My class had to gain the trust of our higher-ups, but once they realized we were not the same as the previous class and had a much higher level of professionalism, they were more comfortable sending us on player appearances, locker room tours, three stars, etc.

During my football internship, I had limited interaction with the players. But, it was (and still is) part of my role to be an onsite contact for players during events. In my first week, I was asked to be the onsite contact for a player and it was basically a test to see how I would handle it. Once I passed, my supervisors had no problem sending me to a local middle school with one of our marquee players. I also interviewed our players for web content, attended their charity events as the team representative, among other tasks.

But the key to working with players is professionalism. As long as you maintain that, you’re golden.

My best piece of advice: the biggest no-no is asking for autographs. Doing so will instantly downgrade you from professional to amateur. No matter how tempting, refrain. It’s not worth the risk, which can be as costly as potential jobs.

Until next time,

- J

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