I have a favorite saying that I used when someone is stunned by something that has been said or done to them. It is, “when you are dealing with people, there are no absolutes.” It’s general enough to be interpreted by others to fit their situation but specific enough to beg the question, are you really surprised?
Well, I had to deliver that favorite saying to the man in the mirror recently. After working with hundreds of teens as they moved through the college planning and application process, no one had selected a major or career area that made me stop and scratch my head – until now. A young man preparing for graduation in 2022 was really struggling with how he could secure a career with a college or professional sports team without being an elite athlete. I began suggesting the usual occupations like coaching, trainer, analyst, commentator and the like, but none of them were an exact fit. What he eventually found with the help of YouTube videos is equipment manager. He sent me videos that showed just how much went into transporting football equipment to an away game for college and professional teams. I was very surprised that such an undertaking took so many full-time employees.
The individuals responsible for packing, transporting and then distributing all the equipment required by an entire football team have a very specific set of skills. It was obvious that the managers in the videos had those skills by the length of their tenure in those positions. The extent of my knowledge of equipment managers went no further than the kid that helped the coaches in high school. This is one of those occupations that people generally stumble upon and grow to love.
Even though our plans for college didn’t change very much, we have targeted Sport Management programs that have built in an internship requirement as a part of the curriculum. In this way, he will be able to develop relationships with teams and understand what needs to be done in order to land a position in equipment management. This is an area of the college experience that had evaded me until now. Little consideration had ever gone into what happens before teams take the field or the court. The statement has proven to be true once again that if you just pay attention, you really do learn something new every day.