By Asia Matthews and Diego Pineda
Queens, N.Y. & Raleigh, N.C.
During the Jets-Colts preseason game on Aug. 8, all one could hear in the press box was the sound of reporters frantically tapping the keys of their laptops. A few fiddled with their recorders or grabbed a bite to eat between plays. It seemed as though everyone was working in complete isolation. But for the staff of the stadium working the press box, it was an entirely different ball game.
A press box is expected to be filled with reserved and elite reporters who strictly maintain professionalism with the stadium staff. But the stadium workers had a different take on what working in the press box is actually like, claiming that working there feels like interacting with family members.
Maurice Richardson, who works in Guest Services, said, “Everybody’s like a family.” He describes the general atmosphere of the press box as “friendly,” and says that there are numerous opportunities to form personal bonds with all types of press box visitors. “Players I grew up watching, I get to hang out with,” said Richardson. He thinks of the journalists as approachable and friendly, and says that they gave him a special nickname for when his favorite team, the Giants, play. “I’m here as Maurice, but in a Giants’ game I’m the Mayor … I love Giants. I love sports,” said Richardson.
Richardson chose to work at MetLife in order to interact with famous coaches and reporters he admires. “I didn’t get this job because I needed the money,” he said. “I got it because I like it.” The ability to talk to the people that were his childhood idols allows Richardson to make personal connections with them. Working at MetLife makes him realize that there is no difference between workers, journalists and celebrities — everyone is equal.
Just like Richardson, Carlos Iznaga, who is new to the Cleaning Services at the press box, has already had encounters with celebrities. “I met the whole crew of One Direction and 5SOS one day and one of the guys said ‘hi’ to me. After we talked, I realized that he was one of the guys that all the girls were screaming at earlier on the stage.”
Even though his duties are minimal, he’s happy that he can get paid to watch one of his favorite sports. He’s been playing football since elementary school. As a fresh high school graduate, he plans to pursue football in college. Free events and familial treatment from his new co-workers makes taking out trash worthwhile.
The press box may be seen as intimidating and serious, but Iznaga and Richardson show that it is the exact opposite. The press box atmosphere is not uptight, but it is respectable and calm. Everyone stays quiet and neutral during the game. The main goal of the staff is to keep the press happy and represent the team franchise. These are simple tasks that make everyone feel as if they are at their home away from home. That way, when the staff and journalists leave the press box they can say, “Have a great day!”
“See you next Saturday,” staff greeter Angie Ortiz says as they file out.