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TSB in Tampa: Covering the Super Bowl Is a Dangerous Job, Someone's Gotta Do It

Chris Mottram is on the loose in ↵Tampa this week. He'll be posting about various goodness and ↵misadventures here on no particular schedule.
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So, you think your job sucks, do ya? You wanna be a sports writer, you say? For some reason you’re under the impression that being a journalist is some cush job with no real dangers -- all they do is peck away at their keyboards, talk to athletes, and travel the country attending sporting events you only dream of. Basically, they get paid to watch, and know about, sports. ↵

↵Well, not so fast. It’s much more dangerous than you think. At least it is down here in Tampa, where the Media Center gave me a glimpse into the harsh conditions the press will be forced to work in this week. Those dudes embedded with the troops in Iraq got nothin’ on this. ↵

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↵This area above is what they call the “Media Lounge.” (If this sounds like the sexiest place on earth, you’d be correct: it is.) It consists of some ungodly number of large, flat screen televisions, all showing either the NFL Network, or connected to an Xbox 360, where media can play Madden at their leisure. Sure, that seems great. I mean, it’s not like anyone is here to actually do work, right? But look closer at the baskets on the countertop to the right. See ‘em? You know what’s in there? Potato chips. And on each of those coffee tables, bowls overflowing with M&Ms. You try writing a story after 22 complementary bags of Frito-Lays finest. The vegetable oil oozing from your pores makes that pen awfully slippery. IEDs ... pssshhh. ↵

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↵Then, to the left of this area, you’ll find a pool table. Oh, that seems like another fun way to avoid doing work. But consider this: Billiards, while perhaps not actually a sport (litmus test: are you actually better at the sport in question after drinking?), is somewhere in the same ballpark as physical activity. This creates a very real and present danger for the average journalist, and while they do have complimentary soda machines in the lounge, I did not locate a defibultor anywhere in the facility. ↵

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↵Just beyond the Media Lounge is Radio Row. Imagine those insufferably annoying morning sports talk radio guys that you absolutely cannot stand, yet still listen to because they’re you’re only source of sports on the way to work. Okay, picture those guys, and then multiply them by about 70, pack them all into one giant room, and you’ve got Radio Row. Now, the easy solution would be to avoid this place altogether, yet in order to get to the media work center, where the internet is, you must walk through Radio Row, specifically right past this angry canine, who was so graciously placed right next to the entrance: ↵

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↵The danger to ones own sanity is clear. ↵

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↵If you make it out of Radio Row with your wits about you, you’ll find an exit out of the Media Lounge and into the media’s own section of the River Walk, where the press is presented with a host of other dangers: The sun, the river, walking ... free Pepsi products. ↵

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↵A stone’s throw (note to media: do not attempt to throw … anything. See also: no defibulator) further down the River Walk is the NFL Network’s set. Now, maybe you’re a -- oh, I don’t know -- heavy machine operator, or some such. Perhaps you’ve perfected the art of incredibly dangerous multitasking, like say working a Caterpillar 252B Series 2 Skid Steer Loader while playing Atari Missile Command on your iPhone. If you think that’s hard, take a look at seasoned pro Adam Schefter, who’s able to text message and have make-up applied to his face at the same time: ↵

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↵Again: Danger lurks around every corner when you have a press pass draped over your neck. Still not convinced? Then why don’t you join Deion Sanders on set and try demonstrating the Steelers’ 3-4 defense on The World’s Tiniest Football Field -- you could totally twist an ankle if you fell off this thing: ↵

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↵I think you get the idea. If media members can avoid the landmines of Madden football, endless snack food, Radio Row, and the bars that reside on every corner, just begging for press to enter and get loaded on the company’s dime, then they might make it out of Tampa with a story to tell. ↵

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↵(Note: I will be putting that final landmine to the test tonight when I venture over to an area called “Channelside.” It’s my understanding that there are plenty of bars in this area, where I’m hoping to document Steelers fans in the wild while attempting to remain sober myself. Although I’m fairly certain this night is destined to end with me intoxicated, unable to find anyone from Pittsburgh.) ↵ ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.