SuperBowl? More like SuperShaft
How I got used by the NFL at the big game

Before I had a sip of hot coffee this morning, I got an earful from a very upset employee ...

"Picture this: It’s cold. Well, cold for South Florida – around 65 degrees. And pouring rain. It’s Superbowl Sunday morning, and all around you, people are scrambling to get ready for the crowds. Vendors, entertainers, security people, housekeeping, groundskeepers and shuttle drivers. Everyone is in a Superbowl jacket of some kind. Except one very noticeable group. The Superbowl Host Committee volunteers."

Lynn, in our office, was a volunteer at yesterday's game. And she didn't come back from the event of the year happy. Here's her story from last Sunday:

"The men and women who have been there at every special event, every Superbowl Host Hotel and all three regional airports volunteering their time and talents to make sure Superbowl XVI is the best ever, are shivering in their mandated short-sleeved guaberras, many of them far from shelter, food or drink in parking lot booths where the rain is blowing in through the two open sides. Other have been handed plastic arrow signs and are being asked to stand out in the parking lot, in the rain, directing cars to available $50 a piece parking spots.

For months, these people went to meetings, training sessions, special events, and local venues. They completed security background paperwork, and application paperwork and countless other forms. They have driven all over South Florida to staff events and fill VIP bags, media kits and training packets. They have purchased required trousers and fanny packs and shoes and hats at their own expense. And they did it all without receiving a dollar in pay. They did it for the love of the game, or the pride in their local community. And they continued to do it even when promises were broken or schedules changed without warning or patrons were rude. So why are the only people not being paid for all their hard work also the only ones without jackets or sweaters or sweatshirts? And why are they being placed in the worst locations on the property?

The answer is simple. Because the Host Committee and the NFL don’t care. Because it’s easy to promise people that all their hard work and hours of free labor are going to result in a few perks on game day. A chance to see part of the game. A spot indoors to help patrons with their questions. A jacket. And it’s just as easy to forget about all the promises when the big day comes and it’s too late to take back all those hours of free staffing and sorting and stuffing. The work is done. The profits are pouring in.

Why worry about them now? And if you can squeeze out a little more unpaid work without giving them so much as a dollar-store poncho or a cup of coffee, all the better.

The entire Superbowl event would crumble without the tens of thousands of volunteer hours Superbowl Ambassadors put forth. The concerts, the parties, the NFL Experience and the game day itself all depend on thousands of volunteers who show up and give their very best for free. And yet when the
rain came and the temperatures dropped, the volunteers were literally left out – wet, cold, and jacketless.

When the Superbowl returns to South Florida in 2010, would-be volunteers might want to re-think their investment in time and travel and money as an Ambassador. Volunteering is one thing. Signing up for broken promises and pneumonia is another."  |  digg it!  |  reddit reddit!  |  Google!

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