Today, I flew to Orlando with the team for our annual bowl game. Since Christmas and New Year’s fall smack dab in the middle of bowl season, Shea and I were both SO thankful that we are able to enjoy a few days off and spend Christmas with my family. New Year’s Eve, however, will be a little bit trickier, but we are used to spending holidays on the road.
Even though I got time off from work for Christmas, planning holiday get togethers in the midst of football season isn’t always easy. We couldn’t buy our plane tickets to see my family in North Carolina or make plans for Christmas until well into December. We saw the price creeping higher and higher each day throughout the first part of the month but couldn’t pull the trigger until after the conference championship games were played, LSU’s bowl game was decided and an LSU practice schedule was put together. Once all of those factors were determined, we could then book our trip. Tickets were outrageous, and thankfully, one of my brothers gave us some of his frequent flyer miles to soften the blow.
‘Tis the Football Season!
This happens every year. Each year my family knows that I will not know our bowl game until a day after the championship weekend and then have to wait after that to find out our practice schedule. I am lucky that I have been able to see my family each Christmas these last five seasons, even if that means traveling back to Baton Rouge on Christmas Day so I can catch the team plane to our bowl site.
That’s just life working in sports.
My first Christmas out of college I was alone. ALONE. By myself (but also puppies, thank goodness!) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I remember getting off of work and opening one of my parents’ nice bottles of wine (yes, because I lived at my parents’ house when I graduated…that is a whole other post), and thinking, “I am going to enjoy this because they left me alone on Christmas.” I might still remind them about this from time to time, but I don’t blame them in the least bit for going to see my sister and grandkids. Grandchildren trump any family member, ever.
That Christmas I ate a pre-prepared meal from HEB, drank wine and had a unique holiday with my co-workers. My first job out of college (not counting J. Crew) was with a start-up division of FOX Sports called SportsNow. It was essentially a bunch of kids out of college getting their feet wet within the sports broadcast industry. Those co-workers quickly became my friends who four months later became my family on Christmas Day.
And, I woke up on December 26th perfectly O.K.
Now, I spend a lot of holidays with my LSU work family. Working in sports is fun. It is so much fun, but one of the first things I tell people when they ask me about it is prepare to be alone. Not forever or anything like that, but you have to be okay with being alone at some points in your career.
Q: When do you enjoy watching sports? A: On the weekends. In the evenings. On holidays.
If this is when you like watching sports, then this is when you will be working in sports. Think of all of the people from broadcasting to team-related individuals to those working in the stadiums who all work their nights and weekends for sports. It’s just part of the gig.
This last Thanksgiving I woke up in a hotel room in Montgomery, Tx., coincidently 30 minutes from where I grew up and where my parents currently live. I woke up and ate an uncrustable peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast that I had gotten on our charter plane the day before. To me, the whole situation was funny, and then I thought, wow, this is exactly why I am thankful. It might not be your typical Thanksgiving, but I woke up working for the best team in college football and was going to a football game that night for my job.
I was able to snag some sideline passes for my parents, nephew and Aggie brother, and I don’t know if I have ever been so excited to see family on the sidelines. They enjoyed a huge Thanksgiving tailgate that my brother set-up that day, and even though I was bummed I couldn’t go to it, I was so incredibly thankful that my job allowed me to bring my family to me – on the sidelines.
We play Louisville on New Year’s Eve morning, and once we finish the game we head straight to the airport to fly home to Baton Rouge. Shea is catching a commercial flight at the same time, so we are crossing our fingers that we are able to ring in the New Year together.
And, sometimes, that’s just how you have to do it. If you want to work in sports, you make it work. It’s just like any other job, really, but I think it’s a lot more fun.
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are able to ring in the New Year with the ones you love. I have a lot of new ideas planned for the blog in 2017, so I am looking forward to a fresh start!