Sports are not a pretty thing, despite how it may look on television. It’s not just the players or coaches, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people working hard at every game to try and keep fans happy. From the concession stand folks putting up with dozens of hungry people at a time to the guys having to handle clearing the parking lot, there are a lot of ugly jobs in sports that are bad to put up with it no matter the pay.
It’s easy to be snarky here and make up joke “jobs” like working for Jerry Jones or the barber for a guy with a bad haircut. But there are, seriously, jobs in sports that are just terrible in every way imaginable. No matter how good the pay can be (and in some cases, it’s not even that good), it doesn’t seem worth the massive effort involved and the sheer disgust, and even danger, the jobs produce. From cleaning up crap to putting up with massive egos of players, the issues of fans and more, there are a lot of jobs in sports that are bad and sometimes even worse than you think. Here are 15 of the worst jobs in sports and make you a bit grateful for what you have.
16 Soigneur for Cycling Teams
“Soigneur” is French for “one who cares for others.” Those in the job of cycling might think “near slavery” is a better definition. Imagine having to be personal chef, trainer, masseuse, psychologist, washer and driver all in one. Now imagine that instead of being for just one high-strung and difficult athlete, it’s for a TEAM.
There’s handling bad weather, lotioning up the bikers, tending to wounds on the road, dealing with accommodations and making sure they get their proper rest, not to mention having to deal with saddle sores (yep, that’s as gross as it sounds). Basically, you’re the roadie for a rock band only with even worse personal hygiene.
15 Clubhouse attendant
Some folks complain about a 35-hour work week. Attendants have to handle 35 hour work days. Baseball is the obvious pick but it also pertains to football, basketball and just about any other team sport. You have to maintain the clubhouse in perfect conditions of cleaning, harder than it sounds after a rough game with sweaty and dirty players. An attendant needs to often cook for the guys, get snacks, put up with various pranks, be front and center for arguments and even brawls, make sure all the equipment is ready for transport for the next game and slews of other tasks.
You have to work through holidays, long months on the road and pretty much no personal life whatsoever, the team is your only task. It’s grinding both mentally and physically and thus it’s not really a joke of how the attendant does more work in a single game than the entire team combined.
14 Grounds crew
For the most part, it’s not a bad job as you can sit back and watch games, occasionally needing to check on a messy situation but still okay. However, when a rainstorm comes in, you need to race out and cover the field with a tarp, a harder job than it seems. One slip-up and you’re a laughable highlight on SportsCenter. Not to mention that the real work comes after the game, clearing up torn grass, baselines and more to make the place picture perfect for the next encounter, a job that can take hours only to watch it all messed up fast. Free games come with a high price.
13 Rodeo Clown
It’s a job with one purpose; to dress up like a clown and let yourself be chased by a rampaging bull. When a rider falls off, the clown races to get the bull’s attention and thus not trample the rider. A laudable goal but then that’s putting yourself in danger, having to avoid this beast while in a goofy outfit and if you survive that, there’s still cleaning up the area and occasionally having to handle this bull itself. If things go wrong, you’re ending up in the hospital, or worse, dressed in a clown outfit which is pretty embarrassing on top of being dangerous.
12 Urine Collector
A job sadly on the rise in the last few years, a man has to go to a player usually twice his size, telling him he has to pee in a small cup. He then has to make sure that player does so, standing right outside the bathroom to ensure he does it, fill out forms and then transport the urine to the testing center, never letting it leave their sight to ensure that it’s properly vetted and tested. Talk about a crap assignment.
11 PR Managers
Talk about a thankless job. When a player acts up, whether cheating, getting arrested or anything else, one person representing his team has to try to put a positive spin on it for the media. It can be anything from a team having a very bad year to firing a coach or a brawl among players. The PR manager and their team have to try to maintain a good face, harder today thanks to the rise of social media.
Not to mention how your head can be on the chopping block for a bad press release or interview and somehow you’re to blame for the actions of an overentitled jock. Trying to look good can often be very bad.
10 Youth Sports Referee
It’s not so much the kids that are the problem. Sure, it can be aggravating seeing blown plays, botched calls and the occasional massive crying jag from someone after a bad hit, but hey, they’re kids, you can excuse it due to their youth. No, the real problem is the parents. There are those who will simply root for their kids and realize it's just a game. For every one of those, you’ll have a mom and/or dad leap out of the stands to scream at you for daring to uphold the rules and not push things their kid’s way.
The list of sports parents who have openly engaged in brawls at games is long and famous. The irony is that so often, it’s the little kids who are the more mature ones to handle. Try to compare the amount of times a referee gets a pat on the back for a job well done with the amount of times parents will scold them.
9 Dugout Cleaner "Clubbies"
The next time you watch a baseball game, focus on the guys in the dugout. They spit, they toss drink cups around, they sweat like crazy and they even occasionally throw up. There are sunflower seeds, tobacco, gum and who knows what else getting tossed on the ground on a regular basis so that by the ninth inning, you have a thick layer of absolutely disgusting crap lying on the floor.
Some poor soul has to be the one to clean it all up, scrape every bit of sticky stuff off, wash it all down and ensure things are okay for the next game, often in just 24 hours. Most guys would prefer to be the stadium restroom cleaners than have to deal with that as a dugout can be home to garbage most people never want to witness.
8 Sparring Partner
What’s more dangerous than being a boxer? Being a boxer’s walking punching bag. Yes, you have protective gear for your head and chest but you still have to endure a professional boxer slamming his fists to your body at high speed with the trainer yelling at him to make it harder. That’s just boxing, MMA is even worse as you’re the poor guy a fighter uses to test how badly he can twist an arm or leg and slam a guy down before it's too much. You’d think pay would be good but sadly not really enough to put up with getting more damage than your guy’s planned opponent.
6 Catch Can Man
It’s not the most famous job in racing but it’s needed. The simple idea is that when a car comes in to be fueled, the pit crew is in a rush so a guy has to stand by the car with a can to catch any fuel that spills out of the gas tank and/or hose. In other words, a man just sits there, inhaling exhaust fumes on a regular basis and hoping that someone doesn’t cause a spark that can turn them into an instant human torch. But hey, they get to see the races for free, that must overcome any fears of imminent death.
5 Golf Ball Scuba Diver
It may not sound too bad. Someone has to go into the ponds to get the golf balls randomly hit in by players and it’s just a couple of feet, okay. However, quite a few of these ponds are larger and deeper and thus you’d need a full scuba outfit to get around in there, having to swim through thick mud and muck, trying to find a ball amid the bottom; it’s harder than it sounds. Not to mention occasionally having to put up with alligators and other animal life that doesn’t like intruders. Plus, the pay is crap for a job having to deal with some truly gross elements to keep the course owners happy.
Horses are magnificent animals but they can be hell to clean up after. A stable hand not only has to handle grooming and health issues but ensuring that horses are well fed and in good spirits with walks, often hard with temperamental animals. Obviously, the big issue is having to clean up after them as some ranches can have literal hills of pure manure about that has to be taken out, piled up and disposed of. Horses may be beautiful but also horribly disgusting to handle.
3 Uniform Laundry
Consider just how much dirt, dust, muck and even blood that gets onto the uniforms for a single game of any sport. Football and soccer are the worst for the sheer amount of grime that gets in and you can’t just throw them into a simple washing machine and have them done with. They have to be cleaned over regularly as the owners prefer to see them bright and clean for every game and photos.
That’s not to mention the practice uniforms that have to be washed daily and handling the wear and tear of the fabric as well as jockstraps. Some teams are rich enough to afford multiple uniforms but others have to take the same ones constantly and thus the pressure is on to ensure that these are cleaned to avoid not just bad image but also possible infection from dirt and bacteria, a much harder and thankless job than some might believe.
2 Stadium Custodian
Players can be bad but just think of how much worse it is for the guys who clean up after the fans. Gum under seats, various items spit up, vomit no doubt at several places from either kids or drunk adults, popcorn boxes strewn about along with candy wrappers, drink cartons and more. Not to mention some guys talk about how every now and then you’ll find some more…risqué items from fans taking advantage of games for a different kind of activity. Oh and let’s not even start on the bathrooms. Now take that job and multiply it by a 50-80,000 seat stadium and it’s no wonder some guys in this occupation are happy for a low attendance season to cut down on their crap.
Sure, it sounds fun. You dress in a big costume, you dance around, entertain fans and the kids, what’s not to love? Well, for a start, you have to put up with a very large and bulky outfit that’s nearly impossible to see out of and it gets unbearably hot in the summertime, meaning you stink like holy hell even after a shower. You have to put up with some fans being wise-asses to toss garbage and items at you and the unenviable task of firing up a crowd when the team is losing. That’s not to mention the guys who do “mascot races” and having to run around in those terrible things. It’s a bad job in so many ways and it’s a wonder anyone puts up with it.
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