Athletic employment: cash and commitment


By Sam McFarland

Graphic by Lynn Kim

Looking to make a little cash without a big time commitment? Or maybe you just love sports, and you’d like a chance to stay involved in the game without actually playing. 

From umpiring baseball to lifeguarding to refereeing, there are plenty of different options to make money working in sports. Officiating a sports game can be a fun way to make a quick buck, and the flexible schedule is enticing to many busy students. It can also help you connect with people in your community that you may not have known before and allow you to form a deeper connection with the sport overall. 

Sophomore Josh Feiner started umpiring baseball in 2019 and quickly fell in love with it.

“I love playing baseball so much, so I want to pass that joy on to the younger generation,” he said. 

Feiner said that since he now has experience working within the sport, he feels a greater sense of gratitude towards other sports workers. 

“As much as I do sometimes complain about the umpires while I’m playing, it does make me appreciate their work during my games,” he said.

Sophomore Ruby Berzin, who teaches gymnastics to younger children, said that working as a coach has given her a different perspective of the sport and others who immerse themselves within it. 

“[Coaching] definitely makes me have more respect for my coaches and the people that teach me in my sport,” she said. “Being the person that’s working definitely teaches me how people in the working industry want to be treated.” 

For many students, sports is a sector where they get some of their first jobs and first experiences in a workplace environment. 

However, getting a job in sports is no walk in the park. One commonality among the experiences of those working in sports was that one of the downsides of the job was the heckling from parents and coaches. 

Sophomore Aaron Waksler, who’s been umpiring since he was 14, has needed to face that challenge.

“The hardest part is containing your emotions so you don’t throw out the bald angry parents who seem to have no idea that this is Little League and not the MLB,” he said.

Officiating can be stressful — Feiner said that the pressure is on to make the correct call in a timely fashion.

“Some of the plays happen so quickly, so you really have to be quick to make your decision,” he said.

Luckily, the hard work comes with a substantial reward. Multi-sport coach Justin Feinberg spoke to the benefits of being a basketball referee.  

“It’s probably the highest paying job you’re going to find as a high school kid,” Feinberg said. “Officiating sports games as a high schooler pays around $25 to $30 an hour, which is pretty good compared with jobs like a cashier that only pay around $16 per hour.”

Feinberg also said that working in sports also provides an educational benefit and teaches students various life skills at a young age.

“It’s a good experience where you get to learn a lot of things, such as how to deal with people and interact with adults and kids,” he said.

These skills are especially emphasized in another sports job: coaching. As a coach, you have more control over the game, and you get to organize the team in ways that you normally wouldn’t as a player. 

Senior Russell Lee, who coaches volleyball for the Boston Youth Area Volleyball Club, talked about the managerial  and strategic aspect of the job.

 “As a coach, you feel more like the player in a chess game than one of the pieces,” he said.  

However, if coaching or officiating sounds like too much stress and pressure, you can lay back and relax in a lifeguard chair by the pool. Sophomore Lucas Nelson has enjoyed lifeguarding for two years. 

“It’s really easy. I get to be outside in the sun and it’s very nice,” he said. 

The world of sports is vast, with opportunities in every direction you look. If you’re looking for something exciting and engaging, you might find refereeing a lot of fun, but if you want something a little more laid back, lifeguarding is a good option. 

However, the one thing that stood out across interviews was how much everybody enjoys their work and, of course, the chance to make some extra cash. These jobs are fun learning experiences that forge connections across communities 

Students in athletic workplaces find fulfillment from their sport in a unique way. Freshman Mariana Alencar, who coaches volleyball, said that she enjoys seeing the next generation of volleyball players. 

“It reminds me of when I was little, and I get to see that passion all over again,” she said. 

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