It’s been too long since I’ve written one of these. But now the weather sucks, football season is almost over, and I think all of us loyal AGMers need to do our best to resuscitate this site out of its own little recession. And I think we’ve been doing that quite well the last few weeks.
This will be a meandering collection of short stories from the past few months of working sporting events. As you may or may not remember, I’m not much of an usher anymore. For Pats’ games I’m on a response team. For BC Football I guarded the backdoor to the visiting team’s locker room.
I worked one football game at Harvard. I was the official’s escort, which meant I walked with them from their locker room, in the basketball building, through the “crowd” in the concessions plaza, and into the Stadium. Then I watch the game, standing next to the cheerleaders. I wouldn’t put the Harvard cheerleaders in the same league as the USC Song Girls, but cheerleaders are cheerleaders. And I won’t lie, a cute girl with a short skirt and high SAT score is a major turn on.
A few fun facts about Harvard football. Harvard Stadium is 105 years old. There’s a banner for the Crimson’s 1920 Rose Bowl Championship above the north end zone which I thought was cool as hell. The existence of the Stadium prevented rule makers from widening football fields to make the game safer. Instead they legalized the forward pass. Harvard has immaculate athletic facilities and has 41 Division-I teams, the most in the country. A $40 billion endowment will allow that.
While walking to the officials’ locker room, my supervisor commented on the Harvard student body, particularly the band. He remarked on their nerdiness. Offended, I replied: “Hey, I’m a nerd.”
He said, “Yeah, but you’re like, the upper class of nerds.” It was the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.
One of my new jobs before Patriot games is to drive around the parking lot in a golf cart with another event staffer and a pair of Massachusetts State Troopers. We go up and down the lanes and make sure there’s enough room to get an emergency vehicle through. About an hour before kickoff, a dozen State Police horsemen trot through and one of the tailgate RVs plays “Rawhide” for them. It’s trippy.
Sometimes people give us crap when we ask them to move their stuff. But NO-ONE gives the State Police any shit.
A few games ago, the guy I work with out there - who is an excellent golf cart driver - decided to try a little drifting before we returned the cart. It skidded on some sand and started to tilt. I stuck my right leg out for some reason, I guess in an effort to correct the tilt. My foot stuck in the sand, and in an instant I had to decide between a twisted ankle or a scraped knee. So I jumped off, tucked and rolled, grazed the ground with my knees, turned onto my back, popped up and said “Nobody saw that, let’s go.” I had a small cut in my pants, and a dot of blood on each knee. But falling like that without getting injured was the single most athletic feat of my life.
The most interesting game to work was the recent Thursday nighter against the J-E-T-S. I swear to Pedro that EVERYONE, all 70,000 people in the Stadium of all ages was hammered out of their mind. Nobody could walk straight. People were staggering around like zombies, there were lots of Jets fans being obnoxious, and you just knew things would get out of hand. The Stadium always has a vibe to it, and you can tell early on how much trouble there will be later in the day.
Surprisingly, we didn’t have any ejections in the 1st half. We did have a girl who asked us to “convince” her intoxicated boyfriend that it was a good idea to leave. That’s a good woman right there. He was a beer or two away from mental and physical collapse, which would lead to detainment and/or arrest.
We had to deal with a lot of middle aged men acting like children. “He stepped on my shoe!” “He won’t sit down!” “He’s yelling too loud!” “He knocked over my popcorn!”
Then everything happened at once. A big guy - about 6’ 6” - was having difficulty standing. We started talking to him but he was too wasted to handle English. The police showed up to take him in, but that’s when another drunk All-Star made his presence known. He wasn’t as big, but was far from small. He too was losing an argument with gravity.
The second guy pushed me aside and tried to fight the first guy, who was being held up by the cops. But both were so drunk that they couldn’t get in any proper fighting positions. It was like they were standing on the deck of a ship being tossed about by a raging storm. One would take a run at the other and go right by his target.
Eventually they were separately hauled out, along with 4 or 5 more drunks that wanted to carpool in the paddy wagon. Very green of them.
As I mentioned in the beginning of this collection of event staff anecdotes, at BC football games, I was asked to guard the backdoor of the visiting team’s locker room. At Boston College, the visiting football locker room is the same used for hockey and basketball, so there’s a tunnel to the floor of the Conte Forum. I make sure nobody comes into that tunnel unless they’re with the visiting team.
It’s boring. It’s dreadfully boring. I counted the bricks in the tunnel, calculated that 130 laps around the tunnel amounts to a mile, snuck in an AM/FM radio to listen to the Red Sox in the playoffs. It was dull, my friends.
The one pleasure was telling BC people, who think their “All Access” credentials mean they can go anywhere in time and space, that they couldn’t enter my tunnel. “I’m just going to use the bathroom.”
I didn’t say “Sorry, sir,” I didn’t have my customer service smile on. You have a “V” on your credential or you don’t get in. No argument. Have a problem with that, take it up with the BC Athletic Department.
As part of the ACC, most of our visiting teams were from the South. Clemson, VA Tech, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and UCF people all came out of the locker room to examine the strange phenomenon in front of them: a hockey rink. Players, coaches, trainers, even the South Carolina State Troopers with Clemson (pay attention at the end of college football games, notice that most of the time visiting head coaches are escorted by police from their own state). By the way, Maryland had the hottest trainers.
There are four D-I hockey programs in the city of Boston, 10 in Massachusetts and 20 in New England. There’s one in all of the South (Alabama-Huntsville). I fielded all sorts of interesting questions about college hockey, hockey in general, and even the physics of ice…
“That’s not really ice, is it?”
“So there’s water under there, right?”
“They play hockey here?”
“It’s cold in here, but not cold enough for ice, so how is there ice?”
“Is there a hockey game going on?”
“Are they any good at hockey?”
“How do they play basketball here?”
“Are they the only school in the country that plays hockey?”
That last one was my favorite. I forgive the ignorance of college hockey in the South, but questions like that go beyond mere sport ignorance. Who would they play if they were the only team?
For one BC game I requested I be liberated from my tunnel and roam around on a response team. It was the biggest game of the year, a Saturday nighter against Notre Dame. That was a blast. We were never bored.
The first thing we did was create a perimeter around the visiting team buses when the players offloaded and went to their locker room. Then we controlled pedestrian traffic around the student game. We must’ve disallowed entry to 15 or 20 students because they were too smashed to walk straight. Before you get on me for being a buzzkill and ruining everyone’s Saturday night, you have no idea how many times I’ve heard “drunk girl passed out in bathroom” on the radio at BC. And I didn’t hear ANY calls like that for this game so I think we did a good job.
We walked around the concourse, giving people directions, telling them not to stand in front of the luxury boxes. We had a few drunk people that we’d talk to and “wait with” until police arrived. At halftime we cordoned off an area to allow BC’s players to get to their locker room through the Stadium. There were four men fighting so we helped police show them the door. Then two BC fans were nose-to-nose with a Notre Dame fan. I stood between them and told them to go in opposite directions. “He likes Jimmy Clausen WAY too much!” That made me laugh.
A few more walks around the Stadium, talking to drunk people, kicking people out if they had alcohol, or at least making them throw it away. Saw that belligerent Notre Dame fan again, this time with a police escort, handcuffs, and a bloodstained Clausen jersey. Went onto the field to protect the goal posts, just in case. Cleared out the place, then went home. Lost count of how many people we kicked out, it was that fun.
For BC Basketball I’ve been working on the floor. It’s weird, basketball is the only sport we work that allows fans onto the playing surface with no barrier but a painted line. Anyway, I check tickets making sure the person either has the wicked expensive floor seats, the even more expensive courtside seats, or the cheap student seats.
Most of the time, I’m sitting down (so I don’t block anyone’s view) and watching the game.
The men’s team hasn’t played anyone exciting yet. We hosted some first round games of the NIT Tip-Off and St. John’s came in. Providence College played there Saturday afternoon and took the place over. We had about 7,000 fans, and 4,500 or more were PC’s.
I’m more of a fan of the women’s team. They just have a better attitude on the court than the men’s team. Both will struggle in ACC play. But only the women’s team has a cute American Idol finalist or semifinalist (or whatever they have on that show) as their guard. Ayla Brown: Great voice, great jump shot.
It looks like the season of big events (football and concerts) might be over for a few months. But the NCAA Lacrosse Championships are coming in May. Kenny Chesney is headlining another country show in August.
But stay tuned, because another episode of this series will be coming very shortly!