Here’s a list of some of the most difficult jobs in sports
It’s every kid’s dream. A job in the world of sports! It may be that you want to be a player at a famed college. Maybe you would like to coach your favorite sport, regardless of the level.
Perhaps it is an usher’s job that appeals to you. Working in the front office for a professional team seems like an ideal job to many. The possibilities are endless.
Before you start making plans, you may want to read this column. I’m about to give you some of the most demanding jobs in the sports world. Some come with a paycheck that might make you forget the degree of difficulty. Others may not be worth the risk to you, but all of them have one thing in common: they are among the toughest jobs in all of sport.
The Placekicker. Whatever the level: high school, college or professional — when the game comes down to one play and you are the guy that will win it (or lose it) it takes a special person that wants that kind of pressure.
The biggest problem with being a kicker is that most people only want to know the following: “What have you done for me lately?” The moments of achievement are incredible. The losses are hard to stomach.
Two kickers come to mind when I think of the difficulty of this job. The first was the placekicker for Boise State several years ago. It came down to the final game of the regular season. A made field goal means a major bowl game. A miss and the payout for the school drops like a rock.
He missed and a lot of people were crushed.
The other guy is Cody Parkey, the former kicker of the Chicago Bears. If you TRIED to do what he did in a game – you could spend the rest of your life and not get it done. He actually hit the upright on four (seriously four) kicks in one game.
His last kick as a Bear was a miss that cost the Bears a chance to advance in the playoffs. Just to add insult to injury, Parky “doinked” the ball off the upright and on to the crossbar, only to have the ball come back on to the playing field.
And you want to be a kicker!
Replacing a legend. Can you name the guy that replaced John Wooden at UCLA? How about the fellow that took over for Vince Lombardi at Green Bay? Let’s give you an easier one. Who succeeded Woody Hayes at Ohio State?
Gene Bartow took over for the Wizard of Westwood. All Wooden did was win 10 NCAA titles in a dozen years. So how did Bartow fare on the hardcourt at Pauley Pavilion? He went 52-9 in two seasons before stepping away from all that pressure.
If you knew Phil Bengston replaced Lombardi, you are a true fan of football. In three seasons after following the Packers legend, Bengston went 20-21-1. Replacing a legend is incredibly difficult.
Now, Earle Bruce had immediate success after taking over for Woody. He was undefeated in his first season before losing the national title to USC in the Rose Bowl, 17-16. Unfortunately, he would never match that first season, though he was a very successful coach.
Was this past fall similar for Ryan Day or what?
It will be interesting to see who takes over for Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and Coach K. when they give up the reins. Someone will, and the paycheck will make the pressure worth it, if only for a while.
Officiating. I’m not sure what makes a person want to do this very important sports job. In basketball, for example, three guys or gals have to watch ten players and the ball. By the way: you are not allowed to miss a call!
This job is by far the most difficult one in sports. It is impossible to please everyone, yet people do it and most are very good at their craft. Yet when they have a good game the best they can hope for is to be ignored.
Most officials are not noticed until they blow a big call. Unfortunately, that may be several times in one game, according to some coaches and fans!
Junior High Basketball Coach. This is a very specific job, but one that I have some experience with. It is difficult to try to coach kids that are having their first taste of organized sports. You can tell them something in the huddle and they will go out on the floor and just start running around as if you never talked to them. As a coach, you can appreciate the enthusiasm if not their listening skills!
Part of the difficulty in coaching this age group is what to focus on. Many believe that teaching fundamentals and letting everyone have a chance to play supersedes winning. The coach himself may believe that, but he also has to do what the varsity coach asks of him. That may conflict with his own views, as well as those of his players and, of course, the players parents.
It takes a special person to coach at this level and there will be no big paycheck to offset the issues.
Crowd Control. Have you ever seen staff try to stop college students from storming a court or football field? That’s a thankless sports job that rarely is successful. Yet, somebody has to do it.
While watching the Waste Management Open from TPC at Scottsdale this weekend I witnessed what may well be the most difficult job in all of sports.
The 16th hole has stands that surround the par 3.Nearly 20,000 people will fill those seats for each round. They line up as early as 3 a.m. to wait for the gates to open before the mad rush for seats begins.
Then they stand most of the day guzzling their favorite beverages and alternately heckling and cheering each golfer as they play a hole like no other on tour. It was during the third round a couple of weeks ago when I saw the volunteers on the tee.
As each professional teed it up, the volunteers raised their signs imploring the crowd to be silent while the player hit. If you have watched any footage of this remarkable scene, you must agree with me that quiet is not what is going to happen.
Though this may be the most difficult job in sports, I would like to do it once just to observe the scene for a day.
Surely no one expects you to do your intended job. Do they?
Al Stephenson is a columnist for The Advertiser-Tribune.
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