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A Reflection on Gratitude for Sports Professionals

By: Joe Londergan, @Joehio_

For those of us who work in sports, we have a lot to be thankful for. Photo via https://proplayerinsiders.com/

2016 has not been the easiest year to swallow no matter how you look at it. In the sport industry alone, the loss of figures like Muhammad Ali, Arnold Palmer, and Pat Summitt has weighed heavy on the hearts and minds of many of us. But with the arrival of the holiday season, we’re reminded to take stock of the things that we’re thankful to still have in our lives and prepare for the start of a new year.

While it may be easy to get bogged down in negativity as days grow shorter and schedules grow ever crazier with basketball and hockey season in full swing and football bowl season getting closer, I’m personally trying to remind myself of how fortunate I really am to be working in a field that I’ve wanted to be a part of since I was five years old. In that spirit, I wanted to share some specific things about working in sports that this community, as a collective, should be thankful for.

Our Industry is Not Going Anywhere

Some people chose to view sport as a distraction from the unpleasant aspects of life, some see it as a gateway or a platform to confront issues affecting humanity, while others find inspiration in their favorite sports narratives to tackle obstacles in their own lives. Either way, this industry provides a valuable service to all these people, along with an endless source of entertainment. That need for sport, whatever the motive, will never go away.

Certain jobs will come and go, but there will always be an abundance of jobs. Not every industry is fortunate enough to know it will still be relevant in a decade or two. While the industry may change, job roles shift, leagues grow and shrink, needs of demographics evolve, sport will always need hard working people to keep fanning the flames. As a sports professional, you are lucky enough to say that you control your own destiny.

The Tangibles

Sure the holidays aren’t just about accruing more and more stuff. However, there’s a plethora of tangible benefits for sports professionals that are hard to ignore. In might come in lieu of a paycheck in a lot of cases, but still…

For example, one of the core benefits of being in sport is never running out of t-shirts (in turn, a few people get crossed of your list of people to buy gifts for). Working events usually means a free meal from the concession stand or press box. If your position involves traveling, the frequent flyer miles will accumulate faster than Lamar Jackson’s touchdown count. Plus, while experiencing games as a fan can be incredibly fun, working for a team usually means a much more comfortable seat on the sidelines or in a press box compared to the average set of bleachers.

Friends and Family

Some people might be apprehensive about traveling home for the holidays to sit across the table from a parent, friend, sibling, aunt, or uncle who sees the world in different light. The obvious perpetrator here that a lot of us are dreading is politics. Or, maybe they’re an alum of your alma mater’s rival and you’ll be cheering for opposite sides during the slate of football games. Frustrating as those interactions can be, don’t take lightly the fact that you’re surrounded by people who ultimately love you and support you in spite of those differences.

Additionally, don’t forget that the sports business community, while competitive, is also incredibly supportive. If you’ve made any progress in your career up to this point, someone helped you get to there. Whether it be helpful advice in an informational interview or a life changing professional recommendation, keep in mind those people could have very easily turned their backs on you. Make sure they know that they are appreciated.

If you find yourself in this field, hopefully at one point it was a dream that you relentlessly chased in order to achieve. That kind of pursuit requires a high level of focus and time. In order to work in sports, you’ve had to sacrifice time with those people you try to go out of your way to spend time with or acknowledge during the holidays. Be mindful of how your friends and family have exercised a certain amount of patience and strength in their own right in support of your pursuit of your dreams and enjoy the time that you do get to spend together this holiday season.

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