"Thank you for your time!"
Game day. Always an exciting time for coaches, players and fans. You arrive to the game to find a perfectly lined field with all the markers in place, team flags and posters put up, the smell of freshly grilled hot dogs and hamburgers in the air and smiling faces greeting you as you come through the gate. You find your seat in just the right spot of a nearly spotless stadium and settle in as the public address announcer is going through their pregame spiel. Everything seems just perfect but did you ever stop to think how it got this way?
I went early to the McPherson College football game Saturday, as I usually do, especially when I am doing the play by play. As I arrived and got set up in the press box I sat back and looked around as all the preparations were taking place. That is when it hit me just how many people are involved before and after the teams and fans arrive and go home in making sure your experience is a pleasant one at every game you go to.
It starts with the people who get to clean up after fans following every game. They empty trash, clean up nacho cheese and hot chocolate spilled between the seats and blow and/or sweep up every bit of loose trash left behind by those whose focus was, and should be, on the contest at hand. Those same people typically make sure the facility is ready to go with fresh trash bags and no trash blowing around before each game as well.
Next you have the people who put out all the flags and markers and team posters to make the home field truly feel like home. Banners with the team name, school colored flags flying on the stadium, yard-markers in the right places on the field and pylons all standing up in the end zones.
You can't have a game without all the right equipment in all the right places. No, it doesn't roll itself out; someone has to do that too. There is the trainer's table in case of injuries, the water tanks and coolers filled and ready, the benches placed according to how the coaches want them to speak to their team when they come off the field and of course, the warm up balls and game balls where they belong before the teams come out so they can go from the locker room to the field without a hitch.
Mmmmm, smell those burgers and dogs and popcorn? It takes quite a bit of work from a lot of people to make sure when you arrive at the concessions you get exactly what you want while missing the least amount of the game as possible. From ordering product to setting up the concessions area to securing manpower to preparing the food; what you see when you arrive is the tip of the iceberg to what serving you entails.
And let us not forget all of the time and effort put in my coaches, administrators, staff and parents to properly man every area needed on game day. Who is going to open locker rooms; who makes sure the gate table and chairs are ready and change is available; who will work the field gate so only approved people get through; who will do the announcing, run the clock, keep the stats and make sure the press box runs like a well-oiled machine?
These are just a few examples of the people and processes that take place in preparing for any athletic event and while similar, varying from sport to sport. But the one thing that doesn't vary is it takes a lot of people putting in a lot of time and effort to make sure your game day experience, whether a player, coach or fan, is all that it should be. Can you imagine what game day would be like without them? I can't either.
As I write this, the song by Alabama, "40 Hour Week" pops into my head where they mention all the people in America who work behind the scenes. I ask you to join me now and the next time you are at a game, in reaching out to the people who work behind the scenes to give us a great game day experience and simply say to them, "thank you for your time!"
Contact Matt Cole by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MacSentinel