Sports Press Boxes: One-Night Stand or a Love Affair?
The bigger the better
I recently had tiny tiff with a man about size. For him, the bigger the better. I can completely understand that. Sure, dude. To get the most satisfaction, you need width and length. A place to plug in … your equipment.
I'm talking about press boxes – those boxes most common folk don't get to enter but sports reporters and coaches do to watch, cover and analyze football games with their bags, laptops, and audio and video gear.
The man was unhappy that one he had to sit in at a South Arkansas rural college was a wee bit too small. I felt his pain. Happened to me one-time in Washington D.C. Wait, we're talking about press boxes. A woman's mind wonders.
Back to press boxes.
They can be a tight squeeze.
I sat in many of them last fall at high schools and colleges throughout South Arkansas covering sports. I was usually the only woman in them, too. What an adventure that was! Stamina was definitely needed during that tour of duty.
Let's set something straight.
For a high school or college with limited funds – we're not talking woo pig sooie dollars here – sports reporters, especially those who sit on the visitor's side, are not a top priority. I know, I get it, it is hard to take that kind of ego blow. It's as if the athletic directors thought about you for a minute at bedtime – oh yeah that box for those reporters – before they rolled over and fell asleep.
Most press box experiences are a quickie if you are covering an away game. Four quarters. Winner. Loser. Boom.
Some visitor press boxes in Arkansas are like a five-star boutique hotel. Others are more in the realm of a nice Hampton Inn. Others are like run-down pay-by-the-hour motel on a busy highway. Either way, you wont be lingering after a game. In and out. See you next year. Maybe.
But even a one-night stand with a press box can throw you for a loop. Last year, I covered a high school game in a press box that was like a 1960s carnival ride or a backstage with a heavy metal band. Take your pick.
Steep bleachers led to the top of a very impressive press box. Looks great on the outside, deadly on the inside. Turn a corner and metal, rickety stairs that could led to heaven await. Literally. One misstep and hello, pearly gates.
Inside? A death trap. Wires exposed from an electrical box, a chair with wheels that with one quick move to see a touchdown could land you on the ground or through the floor.
That place reminded me of a date that starts with a glass of wine and ends up wasted on Jagermeister telling his secrets and family traumas.
Four quarters never lasted so long.
It's not just the press boxes that can play you for a fool. So can the people in the press boxes who are usually middle-aged men thinking they are the big cock in the hen house or the never-was jock who never will be. But watch out. When he's in that press box, it's his bedroom away from home. He. Is. The. Man.
Trust me, one of these strutting roosters who calls the game in a try-that-in-a-small town threw me out of a press box last year because they needed the room for their sponsors and themselves. Did it sting? Nah. I just felt pity for that pudgy man owning his Friday night domain. Besides that press box for all the money spent on it was … tiny.
Then you've got something that goes beyond even the strutting rooster.
The diva who can show up at a home or away game. You know the type. You've probably dated the type. Needs everything just so. Bottled water. Great wifi signal. Padded seats. Plenty of space for his fancy gadgets. He makes sure and lets you know he has come…to cover the game and knows every move of every player and even players from before he was born. The game is all about his satisfaction. Not the players. Not the coaches. Him. (It's a “him” in Arkansas because very few women cover sports here. It's definitely a bro club.)
Then there's the "L" word.
Sports reporters has a more intimate relationship with home teams cover religiously. Some of the press boxes may have been rode hard and hung up wet over the years, but you have a fondness for them nonetheless – even if you think you may need a tetanus shot after a few scrapes of skin on rusty nails. After each game, you fall in love again.
But love can get heavy.
Welcome to the carefree Friday night press box – no matter the size. Consider it friend zone with free food, kooky jokes, no hard feelings at the end of the night even if things got a little too tight for comfort in a big aluminum box in the sky. No biggie. Casual, no strings attached. See you next time.
Regardless of the outcome of a game, the morning after will always have you reflecting about the game … and the size and shenanigans in that press box.