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Article:Life as a Sports Usher: Episode 23 - Not So ReLAXing Long Weekend

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Way back in April, I got to work the BC Spring Game. It was one of the most laid back events I’ve worked. Spring college football might be a big deal in Norman, Tuscaloosa, and Gainesville, but not so much in Chestnut Hill. It was the first nice day of spring, and most people in Boston were probably doing something else. That being said, there were some excellent student bodies on display at Alumni Stadium. God bless the man who invented short shorts.


Spazspringgame


Anyway, only two interesting things happened. After standing next to a statue of Doug Flutie throwing his famous Hail Mary pass (I was born the day he threw it), I “guarded” the official’s tunnel from the concourse to the field.


During the scrimmage, some guy walked through the tunnel toward the field. “Do you have a credential sir?”


“Doug Flutie, I’m just going onto the field.”


Yeah, I asked Doug Flutie for his credentials at Boston College. Why? Because I didn’t recognize him. He’s like 5’ 7”, not too muscular, and was wearing a hat and sunglasses. It did strike me as odd that he didn’t say “I’m Doug Flutie,” he just said his name. I got kind of a jerk vibe, but he wasn’t too bad. And Alumni Stadium is most definitely HIS house.


Flutieflakes


Later, another uncredentialed individual tried walking by me. This one looked like a football player. About 6’ 6” and 350 pounds of a football player. I asked if he had a credential, he said he did, I asked him to produce it, he rolled his eyes and started to laugh. Then he bitched to his friends about me not knowing who he was. Twenty minutes later he was still bothered.


Turns out his name was Ron Brace. The Patriots selected him that evening in the 2nd round of the Draft.



Now had he said he was a player, I wouldn’t have made a stink. But he didn’t. And he’d better leave that attitude of his on Chestnut Hill. He might Campus King at Boston College, but down in Foxborough he’s just another salary cap number. And he’d better get used to wearing credentials and showing ID down there.


Speaking of down there, the NCAA Lacrosse Championships were once again hosted by Gillette Stadium. I’m not a fan of lacrosse. It might be the only sport I hate. If I’m watching it, then I have a headache. I don’t know why. I think I may be allergic to it.


I reached my 100th ejection during the lacrosse weekend. It was a reluctant ejection.


Under NCAA regulations, alcohol cannot be sold or possessed inside the Stadium. Trust me, Rob Kraft wanted to sell alcohol at this event last year, but it was a dealbreaking condition for the NCAA. This rule would be the reason for most of my 18 ejections that weekend.


Here was #100 (and #101, and #102). My supervisor was on break, grabbing a bite to eat. One of our staff on the field noticed a glint of sunlight off an aluminum can. After talking with the guy and ironing out some miscommunications, we finally found the trio of beer drinkers. It was three guys wearing Duke lacrosse shirts, each had one beer. They were all well into their 30’s, sober, and extremely cooperative. I pleaded with Observation (the radio call sign for one of the head honchos of an event) to not eject them. But the policy was black and white. They had to go.


It wasn’t even bittersweet, just bitter. They were completely fine, utterly sober, and one claimed to be the older brother a Duke player (their licenses were all from Upstate Central New York, so their wearing Duke shirts despite being from there made his story believable). Even walking them out, they were upset but didn’t take any of that anger out on us.


That was the cause of most ejections. Some more dramatic than others. It was a privilege to kick out one punk from Cortland State, which was my school’s archrival. Bombers baby!

Cortland kids are generally stupid hicks who are admitted to the school if they can stumble around the fields of Cortland County and eventually wind up on the campus, and/or fail to spell SAT properly. They drink, they fight, they drink. And the guy we ejected was no exception to this stereotype.


Unfortunately, Cortland won the Division III championship game against Gettysburg College. And most of those Red Dragon state schoolers went home happy.


One brief but significant bit of drama occurred between Cortland’s victory in the D-III title game, and the D-II contest between C.W. Post and Lemoyne. Those two games featured general admission, first-come-first-serve seating. Except for 5 rows of seats behind each bench. Those were set apart for parents and family, who were given wristbands to sit there. So after Cortland won, we had to politely ask the Cortland parents to move so the C.W. Post parents could sit there. Not too dramatic. For the most part, the Cortland parents were happy to vacate.


But the C.W. Post people were early. Dreadfully early. There was 90 minutes between games, but these people wanted to swoop down and secure the best seats for themselves. They clogged the aisles, so the Cortland people couldn’t get out.


Then people without wristbands wanted to sit in the reserved section. I got into an intense argument with some parent (who had a wristband) trying to convince me that the three young men accompanying him played for the team. I must have said “Sir, I believe you, but they don’t have wristbands. But they can sit in row 6, or in the section right next to you guys.” This distance of 10 feet was unacceptable to the man.


This guy really pissed me off. I mean really. He was a typical mow-his-lawn-once-a-week guy. Probably the star football player at his high school. Middle management, or perhaps a small business owner. A guy who’s used to being in charge and literally cannot accept someone asking/telling him to do something he doesn’t want to do. As we argued, I seriously weighed the satisfaction of punching him square in the nose against the hassles of losing my job and getting charged with assault and battery.


I didn’t hit him. And eventually, we allowed the baby to have his bottle. This was after explaining that 5 rows of 38 seats means 190 seats and 190 wristbands. For every person allowed in the section without a wristband, there would be a person with a wristband left out. One of those people turned out to be the head coach’s wife. So way to go you self-centered D-Bag.

One of the more interesting things that’s ever happened to me in this job went down during the D-I semifinals. Some fan found a piece of luggage on the concourse. The fan stated that there had been people around it, and then they left, leaving the luggage behind.


Luggage


Ten years ago, this would be a non-issue. It would be “lost luggage” not “unattended package.” What made matters worse was that there was no name or address on the bag. A Continental Airlines tag was on the handle, but with no date or flight number.


Needless to say, there was a commotion amongst the staff regarding this issue. Our response team was first there, then the guy in charge of all the response teams, then the Police, Fire Department, EMTs, the big bosses in charge of Stadium security, and so on. My response team stood around in a semi-circle, and made sure nobody came near the bag. More and more uniforms and different departments showed up and had a pow wow.


It wasn’t too scary. I figured the odds of someone attacking the NCAA Lacrosse semifinals were slim to none. Besides, all bags were checked at the gate, and smuggling this one in would be quite a feet. And if it was a bomb, it wasn’t going to not be a bomb if I was scared or if I stayed calm. It was just a bag. A bag potentially filled with death, but whatever it was, it already was that and nothing else.


Then some guy walked up to me and asked where Guest Services was. I pointed down the concourse toward the booth. Then he walked a few feet, noticed the package sitting behind us, and claimed ownership. That gathering of officials, bosses, and police descended on him like paparazzi on a topless Britney Spears.


He took the bag behind the concourse, opened it, and everything was fine. He was very apologetic. It was an innocent mistake, but a really moronic mistake as well.


During the finals, we had ourselves a runner. We spotted a beer can protruding from the side of his shorts. He offered to simply toss it out. Not good enough. He volunteered to leave the Stadium. Not good enough. We just asked him for his ticket and how old he was, and he bolted. This was behind Section 140 in the North End Zone.


He dashed across the bridge, then to Sections 101, 102, 103, et cetera. Me and another member of my team were closely on him, until the crowd got thicker. This kid was not only fast, he was nimble. He slipped in and around people like a minnow navigating a coral reef. I gave up at Section 104. By then, his description was all over the radio, and his location: Section 118, in the South End Zone.


All I could think was: “He’s a freak. He’s the fastest kid alive.”


A Syracuse fan asked me if I was going to continue chasing him. “They don’t pay me enough to do that. Someone else who’s ahead of him will stop him.”


And that’s precisely what happened, behind Section 120 he was stopped by a supervisor. Turns out he was the son of a cop, and was training to be a cop, and was only 19. He panicked when he was caught with the beer.


Runner140to120realfinal


He risked so much for just one beer. And it's almost never a good beer. Bud Light is the highest quality of beverage you'll catch people smuggling in. Far too many risk far too much for 12 ounces of Keystone swill.


The D-I finals were actually exciting to the throngs of lacrosse fans in attendance. Cornell and Syracuse, two schools 60 miles apart, both traveled over 300 miles to play each other for the title. In fact, of the eight schools that played over the weekend, five were from New York, and four were within 60 miles of each other in Central New York. Cornell led, but Syracuse tied it very late in the 4th period or quarter, or whatever they call it. Then Cuse won in a quick OT.


There were two different Cornell fans who brought in large stuffed bears (Cornell’s mascot is a grizzly). These bears were about 4 feet tall. And each bear had its own ticket. When Cornell played UVA in the semis, many Virginia fans complained about the bear’s owner using it to perform “obscene gestures.” All I could think about was Super Troopers.


The second guy with the bear was apparently one of the top-ranked heart surgeons in the Western Hemisphere. Cornell people are weird.


One annoying sequence of events was when we found a kid, about 10 years old, wandering the 100 level concourse, asking to use a phone. My supervisor let him borrow his, then two of us went with him to presumably locate his father in the 300 level. Alas, it was only his older brother, and he was only 15. I don’t know how many of you have been to Gillette Stadium, but it’s a hike and a half up to the 300s. We can’t leave a lost child with someone under 18, so the kids had to call their Dad, who was down on the 100 level. I wanted to yell at both of the kids for making me walk, and then for giving me crap once I told them that they HAD to come with me to meet up with their father. But I was too tired to yell.


So after 5 lacrosse games, and about 25 hours on my feet, I was up to 117 ejections. The NCAA Lax finals are going back to Baltimore for two years, and I’m not too upset. I miss having my Memorial Day Weekend. But they’re coming back in 2012 and 2013.


Next time on Life as a Sports Usher: An unfriendly encounter with some New York hooligans.

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