What People Don’t Tell You About College Sports

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This post is part of the #YPSportsChat Blog Series! This series will give young professionals an inside look at the intricacies of the sports business world and advice on how to navigate it.

One of Carl's views of Nippert Stadium. Photo via Carl Schmid

By: Carl Schmid, @CarlSchmid

It’s 2 a.m. as I finally grab my car keys, phone, wallet, and head out of the office. Exhausted might be an understatement. It’s been a long day as I finally get to leave the office for the first time in roughly 18 hours, yet the only thing I can think about is the fact that I have to be back in about six hours. As I drive home I go back through everything that happened during the day and what I need to accomplish when I get back to the office in a matter of hours. These types days are far from normal and that’s why there’s only 12 of them each year, 13 if things go well.

I began working for the Cincinnati Bearcats football team shortly after Coach Tommy Tuberville was hired in December 2012, based on the need for a student with InDesign and Photoshop experience. I may have been the only student in the Sports Administration program with any working knowledge of these programs as I began my college career in the architecture program. What started as a student worker position simply updating a camp flyer and some letterhead quickly turned into working with the recruiting department. I began working on such projects as developing mailers to send to recruits highlighting program accolades and successes. It was during that spring that I began taking over and running the football Twitter account, which at the time had roughly 900 or so followers.

“The one thing that most people don’t tell you about when you begin pursuing a career in collegiate sports is the time commitment.”

By the time fall camp rolled around we had grown the account through a series of countdown to kickoff graphics. Looking back on them, they weren’t the best, but it was a place to start. The Tommy Tuberville era opened with a 42–7 win over Purdue at home on August 31, 2013. How much of that game did I see? Not a single snap. Why? Because I was busy helping with recruiting operations. Whether it was leading recruits to the athletic building, picking up food, or taking out the trash, I didn’t ask questions, I just did the job. This was my role during home games and while I didn’t get to see any of the games, I didn’t care, I had my foot in the door and I’d do anything that was asked of me.

It was this mentality and work ethic that I believe is what resulted in getting hired into a full-time position prior to the 2014 season. In just over a year-and-a-half I’d gone from a student hired because of an e-mail blast that was simply doing graphics to being hired for a full-time position shortly after graduation. In my time as a student I’d worked some long hours and late nights, mostly on game days, recruiting weekends and signing day, but nothing could prepare me for time commitment of the full-time position.

The one thing that most people don’t tell you about when you begin pursuing a career in collegiate sports is the time commitment. Working in sports is not the usual 9–5 career (for most). It’s a lot of long hours, late nights, working on weekends and missed family functions. For all the time spent at the office, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Being part of a team or athletic department is truly a privilege. As a member of the staff you get to experience things that fans dream about. From traveling with the team to spending time with the coaches and players, you’ll see the behind the scenes moments that many only get to experience if it’s posted to social media.

While our department’s main focus is coaching video, we do so much more. On paper I am our Assistant Director/Football Video, which means I assist with all of our coaching video needs. The normal week can consist of filming/editing practice footage for our coaches and then run the All-22 camera (https://twitter.com/UCFBVideo/status/534372306416861184) during games. However, I also oversee and manage the football social media channels. So, on top of coaches’ film, I’m always working to create content for our social media channels and respond to fans. This balance of responsibilities can result in many late nights and early mornings. My fiancée, until next June, fondly refers to me as, “The Ghost” during the season because I’m never around.

So what have I learned in my short time in the collegiate sports world? Never take anything for granted, no job is beneath you, be ready to give up your weekends and if you don’t know how to do something, figure it out. You never know where an opportunity may lead, or what doors a passing acquaintance may be able to open for you. Does the trash need to be emptied? Do practice drills need to be painted on the field? Does a vacuum need to be run in the office? No matter the task, approach it with the same energy that you do your everyday work. This commitment to accomplishing a task outside the scope of your job can say a lot about your dedication and willingness to help. Whether it’s a game, fan appreciation event or even doing something for another team, be ready to work any day of the week. Finally, many times I find myself searching YouTube or Google for tutorials on how to accomplish a task. I may not always know how to accomplish it, but I’m not going to let that stop me from trying and doing everything in my power to figure it out.

My experiences have taken me all over the country and I’ve gotten to experience some pretty cool stadiums and game atmospheres. I’ve been to three bowl games, spent a week and a half of late December in Hawaii and gotten to ride in a NASCAR all because of my job. You never know what’s going to happen next, but it’s what you do with the opportunities that you’re given that help you pave the way for your story to be written. How do you want people to talk about you? How do you want your references to describe you to potential employers? For me, it all began with a chance e-mail I received while sitting at home watching a football game.

Carl is the Assistant Director of Football Video for the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. You can follow him on Twitter at @CarlSchmid!