I Was Laid Off From My Sports Arena Job Because of COVID-19
Mar 2021 - 4 Min read

I Was Laid Off From My Sports Arena Job Because of COVID-19

Pampanero Sports and Entertainment Professional Undisclosed Millennial

What happens to live entertainment when people can’t go out? Lots of uncertainty. And lots of unemployment.

Outside of the top rung, the sports, music and entertainment industries are well-known for their long hours and low pay. The great majority of those who work in those fields are doing it out of passion. A mid-level marketing professional for a sports team could easily transfer skills to another industry and enjoy better pay and better hours—no question. The same goes for an operations manager at a stadium or arena with extensive organizational skills and the 60-to-80-hour per week work ethic that the job demands. But they don’t: They love what they do too much.

Even getting a full-time, salaried job in the industry is a steep uphill battle. This was one of the first things that I learned as I got my start working game days for my local MLB team in college. I worked there for three seasons while simultaneously picking up a number of other part-time and internship positions with multiple other professional sports teams and facilities. After graduating with my business degree, I made a thousand-mile move to take another internship that I thought would help me reach my professional goal of a full-time position in sports. At one point during my internship, I was working four other part-time jobs, all within the world of sports and entertainment, to bolster my resume.

I was spending far too much time at work, but I was absolutely loving it. 

Shortly after my internship concluded, I was finally offered what I had been working so incredibly hard for: a full-time position with the sports arena in my hometown. My part-time experience with two MLB teams, two NHL teams, one NBA team, two arenas, one professional sports league, a sports museum and more had finally paid off.

An incomprehensibly large number of people had just lost their ability to work for the foreseeable future.

Breaking Into the Live Events Business Was Already Challenging—Then Came the Pandemic

Two people in the live entertainment business discussing the set up for a concert.

My first full-time opportunity wasn’t in a department that I wanted to be in long-term, but I knew that if I worked hard and impressed my superiors, I’d have a chance to be promoted to my dream position within the organization. For ten months, I worked an average of 50-60 hours per week without overtime pay, just to build up my good reputation and learn about the operations of the arena. Once my dream position opened up, I excitedly applied, interviewed and got the job.

My first three months in the new position—which required a ton of specialized experience that I was incredibly excited to learn—was mostly training and figuring out what the heck to do. As it turns out, there are a lot of steps to be taken to turn an arena from a hockey rink to a concert in under 12 hours! I started with limited responsibility that quickly ramped up as I gained more experience, and I started to really enjoy it as much as I dreamt I would. 

That was at the beginning of 2020. My next five months of work were spent on Zoom, making up tasks to do for an events job without events. Then I was laid off, along with over 230 other full-time staff from the same organization. We are all now jobless.

From vice presidents to coordinators, no one was safe. 

When I think about the negative effects of the pandemic on the industry that I love, I mostly think about the part-time workers and the students. Besides the full-time staff at my facility getting laid off, over 1,000 part-time workers—ushers, ticket takers, concessions workers, suite attendants, operations employees, box office staff, security staff, stagehands—were now without their usual event gigs. Part-time staff typically have the opportunity to work 300-plus events every year, and while it's supplemental income for some of them, for others the part-time grind is their main source of income. Overall, an incomprehensibly large number of people had just lost their ability to work for the foreseeable future.

The Industry’s Future Is Not Looking Bright

A caution sign at a sports arena stating "field closed".

Put yourself in the shoes of a sports management student in the current landscape. You are studying an industry that is currently dead, where there are virtually zero jobs. You have almost no ability to get hands-on experience in the industry, even part-time, and there are no full-time jobs available. 

Once large groups can gather again and positions in the industry slowly become available, your application will be up against those with full-time experience who were laid off during the pandemic. Many of the connections you made during your internships are now useless, since your previous employers are also unemployed, or working in a totally different industry. All of the knowledge that you previously gained in your part-time positions has significantly lessened in value, as post-pandemic operations will be vastly different from what you experienced. You dedicated your money and a good portion of your young life to a career that is virtually unattainable for the foreseeable future. 

That, ladies and gentlemen, sucks. 

We were the first to go and we will be one of the last to come back.

It's Not Just the Stars Who Are Out of Work

One of the many lower level stadium employees to lose their job during the pandemic.

Now think of all of the sports facilities, arenas, stadiums, theaters and other venues across the country that were forced into a similar position. Not only was your favorite artist’s world tour canceled, but the thousands of laborers, truck drivers, business partners and road staff who make their events possible are without work. 

Not only can you not go to your favorite team’s home games, but the thousands of employees who make a living out of coordinating the events for you to enjoy are not there either. Many careers have ended, many dreams have been crushed and many great people have been left lost due to the effects of this awful pandemic on the sports and entertainment industry. 

We were the first to go and we will be one of the last to come back. 

Pampanero Sports and Entertainment Professional Undisclosed Millennial

Discover Themes

Going Places

It's about time we all got out of the house, wouldn't you say?

Adventure

Unbuttoned

This should be fun. We’re talking NSFW fun, okay?

Sex

Head Space

Chances are you’ve been on your own rollercoaster ride with mental health recently. The Doe is here for you. 

Mental Health

Common Ground

The environment is a constant in the news, but even more so of late. Climate change, the Australian wildfires and, of course, the spread of a global, animal-borne disease have most of us thinking about our planet in unfamiliar ways.

Environment

Game On

While the sporting world has been rocked by the pandemic, it looks for a major rebound this spring: March madness, indeed.

Athletics

Roots

Some folks have family trees that go back generations, others don’t know who their birth mothers are. No matter what, the human desire to know where one came from runs deep.

Ancestry

Hi, Society

Okay, so how many movies did you see in the theater last year? And live concerts? Yeah, that’s what we figured. And yet!

Pop Culture

And Beyond

The year is 2020. Science and technology influence everything from day-to-day tasks to our health and longevity. And yet an ocean of advancement still awaits. The question is, how do we dive in?

Science and Tech

What's Good

To say this year has sucked would be an understatement. But amidst the hot dumpster fire that is 2020, we're looking for a silver lining.

Acts of Kindness

State of the Union

It’s perhaps the most contentious and consequential election in modern American history: As Biden and Trump square off, The Doe jumps into the debate.

Politics

The System

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Portland. Chicago. Lafayette Square. As cities across the United States grapple with protests, unrest and rebellion, The Doe takes a deep dive into justice and the system.

Justice

Subject Matters

Reading, writing and arithmetic ain’t what it used to be a decade ago—or even a few months ago.

Education

What She Said

It’s difficult to articulate what it's like being a woman. Hell, even the spelling of the word is cause for discussion (we see you, womxn).

Women

Four Letter Word

Love: A lot of songs, poems and multi-volume treatises have been devoted to the subject. So, in these strange days when we could use it the most, what’s left to say about the strongest of human emotions?  Plenty.

Love

On the Record

We’re very proud of our particular and deliberate themes at The Doe. They cover a broad range of topics, ones that we feel are crucial to discourse in the world today. But still!

Collection