Last weekend I had an awesome experience working with the NFL White Glove Liaison Program for Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, Georgia! The opportunity was granted to my classmate and I after we planned the inaugural Howard University School Of Business Sports and Entertainment Summit in Washington, D.C. last semester. Our summit touched on diversity and inclusion in the sports and entertainment industry and insight from many diverse backgrounds on how they have maneuvered their way up. One of the panelists from the summit was affiliated with the NFL organization and referred us for the program.
After interviewing for the position last November we were notified about our acceptance in December. The program is designed to pair local liaisons in the host city with CEO’s of major companies – specifically NFL sponsors- and NFL team owners. Liaisons booked restaurant reservations, provided the CEO/Team owner with respective event tickets and served as an escort for them into their suites inside the stadium for game day.
Of course, the experience was amazing, but it wouldn’t be a great story if I didn’t explain how I made the mistake of escorting my CEO to the wrong entrance of the field (Yeah, it happened!). Long story short, the Mercedes Benz Superdome is huge and trying to learn all routes, elevators, entrances and special exits was overwhelming. I even took pictures (which obviously didn’t help) so that I could know exactly where to go. After taking him, his wife, assistant and friend to the entrance where the players entered the field, security caused a small scene. We then, went to the next entrance over (which was still the wrong one) however were able to access the field for pregame. Although my CEO was not upset, I felt that I messed up in a major way, which I’m sure we all seem to do and overthink about when we make mistakes. I was reminded by my friend that we all make mistakes, and it would be impossible to learn and memorize a stadium the size of the SuperDome in less than 24 hours.
After pregame, I escorted the CEO and entourage to his suite, which I knew exactly how to get to. There was a holding area provided for liaisons to sit and watch the game until they were notified from either their CEO or team owners assistant. Thankfully my CEO’s suite was conveniently located near the closest stairwell exit. Therefore, I was able to see a lot of familiar names.
Overall, the opportunity was a great experience and I would love to participate in the program again. Coming from a hospitality background, I am passionate about service and how it is vital in all industries – whether it be to customers or your fellow employees. My only concern is the lack of diversity in team ownership and company leadership. When asked during the interview which team or company I preferred, I immediately started looking for POC, however was disappointed when I could not find any. Also, during game day, my concern made me realize why the current political and social climates have been integrated with major league sports, specifically basketball and football and the impact players have on certain issues. Although these types of events pour more money into metropolitan cities, I hope that the citizens living within these areas realize that we still have a lot to fight for, now more than ever! (#ImWithKap Still)