“Privileged.” That is the answer I gave my friends when they recently asked me what it felt like to work in the press box for each of Cortland’s home football games this past season. Similar to many, I’ve been a fan at countless football games, ranging from my backyard all the way to MetLife Stadium. Working in Cortland’s press box, however, opened my eyes to not only a different view of the field, but also of the game.
I entered the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex on my first day not really knowing what to expect. My job title was “Assistant Offensive Spotter.” Seemed simple enough. I figured that my job was to act as an extra set of eyes on the offensive side of the ball. As I walked out of the elevator and stepped into the press box, I immediately felt privileged. “This is where all of the important people hang out,” I thought to myself. I noticed that on a table in front of me were bags of chips, cans of soda, bottled water, cinnamon rolls, cookies, bowls of candy, and any other snack that comes to mind for people to take. I began to realize just how privileged I really was. I was getting fed, had the best view of the field, and was shielded from the cold at every football game. Although, as you may have already guessed, with great privilege comes great responsibility.
As any fan of football knows, a lot happens on that field after the ball is snapped each play. It would be nearly impossible for one person to accurately record live stats of every single play. That’s where I come in. My job is to assist the Sports Information Director here at SUNY Cortland by giving him information on the offensive side of each play. For example, if Cortland’s quarterback Steven Ferreira (#9) threw a ten yard pass from the 25 yard line to the 35 yard line to wide receiver Angelo Foster (#6), I would have to tell Fran Elia, the SID here at Cortland, all of that information. In addition, I record handwritten passing and rushing statistics for both teams. Simultaneously assisting Fran while keeping my own handwritten stats was extremely stressful at certain times. When Cortland running back Zach Tripodi rushes for 30 yards, then fumbles the ball when he’s tackled, and the ball is recovered by wide receiver Alex Wasserman (hypothetically of course), the press box goes into a frenzy. Everyone is trying to figure out who forced the fumble, who should receive credit for the tackle, who recovered the ball, and where the new spot of the ball is. You probably don’t think a situation as complex as the one just described could get any more confusing. I would have agreed with you. Yet, after spending this past season in the press box, I can tell you that we’re wrong. The only thing that could make a confusing play even worse is a penalty flag on the play. Fortunately, the press box here at Cortland works as a team, collectively deciding what the final stats entered should be.
The biggest lesson I learned through working in the press box this past season was the importance of teamwork. Teamwork is not something that can be taught or learned. Good teamwork comes with experience. With a dress code and
the entire press box rooting for one team to win, it truly felt like I was part of a team. Each person in the press box contributed to the accuracy of the stats and the success of the game. Not every kid who grows up playing football will
make it to the NFL. Although, one can only hope that they’re lucky enough to be part of a team like the SUNY Cortland press box.