My Experience at Super Bowl 52

Many people are fortunate to say that their favorite team went to the Super Bowl, but few are able to say they attended. While I’m not a Pats or an Eagles fan, I was one of the lucky ones who were able to attend the Super Bowl, but not for the game. Here at UTM, as many students have heard, a group of college kids go to the Super Bowl each year to volunteer with various parts of the event, and going to the game is a part of it. This year, as I got the opportunity to attend, the week was filled with training, working the NFL Fan Experience at the convention center in Minneapolis, as well as helping escort NFL retirees and getting to experience the atmosphere of the most-watched single sporting event ever.

Unfortunately, this trip began with a long drive (about 12 hours, to be exact) to Baldwin, Wisconsin. Baldwin is the little town we all called home for the week, and it was about 45 minutes from St. Paul, which is where we caught the train every day to head into Minneapolis. What started out as a miserable road trip turned into an adventure in which I made some new friends and had a lot of laughs. Once we arrived in Wisconsin, we decided that we desperately needed food, and with that, the week truly began. The trip was full of early wake-up calls and some very late nights, but it was an exciting trip to be a part of. The Super 8 Motel where we stayed was nice, and everyone got their own bed. We all, I think, made new friends and strengthened friendships we already had. My roommate, Leah, turned out to be more of a friend when we left than she was when we arrived, and I can confidently say that she helped make the week better because I was sharing a room with her!

Working the NFL Fan Experience took up several of our days, but it taught me a lot about how a large-scale event is run. There were many things going on, which came with various “positions” that needed to be filled by the volunteers. One day I worked at an information desk, and my job was to help fans sign up for the Fan Experience app. This app included the participation waiver that everybody has to have to do any of the fun events inside the convention center, and it also kept track of what one has already done, which made people eligible to win prizes. The second day we were there, our entire group helped pass out maps and direct people to the entry gates, which was just about as exciting as it sounds. Being from a school in Tennessee, a lot of people were intrigued with any accent we had. But, as I’m from Kansas, it felt more like home in the “Midwest” than Tennessee has ever felt! This part of our trip gave me the most insight into event management, as I’ve never seen anything like this before. There are so many moving pieces that I don’t know how everything run as smoothly as it did.

The game itself was crazy. In our room, our day started at 4:15 with showers and getting ready. Leah was super smart and showered the night before, but I thought why not torture myself and wake up before the sun even thought about coming up! A lot of preparation went into Game Day, and 7 of us were assigned to NFL athletes, and one person was assigned to the chef Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods, which was pretty cool. My athlete was Marcus Allen, who played for the LA Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs, which was a pretty big deal for a Chiefs fan! We helped in various ways in the morning before our talent arrived, but once they arrived, our time to shine came. Marcus Allen, Tim Brown, Rich Gannon and Steve Largent were all assigned to the Buffalo Wild Wings Club, which is where six of us were for several hours. Our job as Talent Wranglers was to escort them to their various events inside the club and to make sure that they had everything they needed, from Sharpies to water bottles! Luckily, Mr. Allen was very self-sufficient and loved being around everyone! Once our duties were finished at the BWW Club, we escorted our players to their final destination, and Marcus Allen’s and Tim Brown’s was at the Walter Payton Man of the Year suite. Talk about being starstruck in that moment of seeing all the players there! This part of the Super Bowl was by far the second-best event of the day.

Dr. Davis, the professor who organizes and takes students each year, forewarned us that there is nothing like kickoff at the Super Bowl and that it is the best part of the game; however, I have to disagree just a little bit! Yes, kickoff was so amazing and there is no feeling like watching it, but the National Anthem takes the cake. As many know, P!nk sang the National Anthem this year, and it was by far the most breathtaking experience I’ve ever had. To see 65,000+ people in the stadium singing and paying respect to our country left me with tears in my eyes. I know it’s dramatic, but it’s so true that, in my life, there will never be another moment like that in a sport. Hands down, the best part of the Super Bowl was that moment. The game was incredible, and I can say that I am NOT a Pats fan, so I was overjoyed that the Eagles won the game, as well as with the ending of the game itself. After the game, we were assigned to direct the crowd leaving the stadium. This was the worst part of the entire trip, as it was -3 degrees outside, and we had to be out in the masses! I think we were out for about an hour and a half, so it wasn’t pleasant Aside from that minor issue, game day was one of the best experiences I will ever have.

All in all, the Super Bowl is an event in which I learned so much. I was able to apply what I’ve learned in the classroom to a real-world experience, and I gained knowledge from everything we took part in. From the minute the trip started, I knew that I was only going to get out what I put into the experience, so as cold as it was, I decided that I needed to have a can-do attitude and make the best of every opportunity that was presented. The week was one I’ll never forget, and I hope to be able to go next year while it is in Atlanta. Maybe a warm Super Bowl will make me forget about losing the feeling in my nose, but I do know that the knowledge I have now from going to Super Bowl 52 will lead me to better myself in my career down the road! Picture Credits: https://static.pexels.com/photos/4198/field-sport-ball-america.jpg