By Reid Maus
Imagine standing on your feet for 15 hours, and the only the thing running through your mind is getting back, taking a shower, putting your head against a nice, comfy pillow and having the best sleep of your life.
Now, imagine that shower was in a community bathroom where you are obligated to shower with dozens of people you’ve never seen before in a room that, at first glance, draws parallels to a campy 80’s horror film.
That bed I mentioned? It comes fitted without sheets, and while your mind races thinking of the day you’ve had, you’re forced to gaze at the ceiling above, which has just enough curvature to warrant thoughts of cave-ins.
This is the reality for many of the student-athletes who are being used for fundraising efforts of Bluffton’s sports teams. These weekends loom over these students’ shoulders all fall and put a heavy black spot on a full weekend.
The point of this article isn’t to whine or pout about a responsibility we have as student-athletes.
This article is about the need for something to change to make these weekends that several sports teams participate in over a weekend in the fall, more…well, more bearable.
The weekend starts when classes end on a Friday afternoon, as all the athletes pile into cars for the two-hour drive, in order to save on gas money, as students are responsible for transporting themselves to Cedar Point.
Once arrived on the peninsula that is surrounded by Lake Erie, you are checked into the dorms in which all the teams and organizations around the area are subjected to stay. The dorm is well past its prime and has been sitting there for nearly a full century.
The main hallway is boarded up by metal crates that give you a prison-like aura as you maneuver your way through to the rooms. Each room has three to four beds and lacks heat or air conditioning. And, there’s just one shower room for men and women in the whole dorm, so hundreds of workers are relegated to this room.
For some, the dorms are bigger deal than others, the real struggle comes from the work itself.
After we arrive and are checked into the dorms, we are brought into a room, sat down for three hours and are put through a “training course.” The gist of this training is essentially to not call people who are overweight and unable to ride the rides “fat.” Or, to not be rude to the park’s visitors’ questions.
Regardless of how many times you have taken the course in the past, it must be completed each weekend you work.
The “reward” of being cooped up in the training room for three hours is getting the chance to ride some of the fantastic rides Cedar Point has to offer…for the final two hours before the park closes.
The next day, you report to the rides around 9 a.m. This is where the fun really starts.
You are instructed on what to do at your ride, rendering the instruction course the night before useless.
The work mostly consists of three stations. The first station is standing at the front entrance of your respective ride with a height stick waiting for kids to try and pass you before you crush their spirits by letting them know they are too short to ride.
The other (and far worse) responsibility of this job is letting people know that they can’t bring any type of bag on the ride for no other reason than the park refuses to utilize bins on the ride for the passengers and push the visitors of the park to instead buy a locker in order to gouge more money from the families and teenagers who visit.
The best part of this is getting yelled at by the visitors as if we, the workers, are getting a slice of that lucrative locker scam money.
No, instead we don’t get a dime the whole weekend. Let me tell you though, we, the workers, spend those dimes we don’t get.
We don’t get fed by the park, but we are instead required to buy our own food. The food in the workers’ cafeteria is cheap, but the money adds up. You can get a fair meal for $5, which seems reasonable until you realize that we eat up to six meals there. The money quickly mounts up, and even as the day progresses, you can go for up to eight hours without eating once while on the job.
We, as volunteers, get the worst break time slots, which leads to long periods of time without breaks, sometimes, as previously mentioned, eight hours. The paid staff get those breaks rightfully so; they worked there all summer and we are just helping out for a weekend.
The breaks work on a rotation with your co-workers, and you’re allowed a 45-, 30- and 15-minute break throughout the 15-hour work day. Since we are the low men and women on the totem pole, we get the very first break time, and they appoint to you which break you take.
The park opens at 11 a.m., and that is when you are assigned your 45-minute break. It doesn’t really make sense that you get a 45-minute break before you even start working, does it?
At 11:45 a.m., you return to your station and work the next 12 hours with only two short breaks. After your second break at 3 p.m., you will go without food until midnight, doing mind-numbingly boring work.
The same process continues on Sunday, except the park closes at 8 p.m. The 30-minute break is scrapped, and the time without food goes longer. We get back to campus around 10 p.m. and are too tired to do any homework that might be due the next day.
Is the problem starting to become clear?
We, as student-athletes, are asked to use our own money to provide for ourselves when our respective sports program is making plenty of money at our expense.
Some teams make more than $10,000 in a weekend while we are each spending anywhere from $30 to $50 in food and gas. We are college students, we are athletes and we have little to no time to earn money. Spending money like this in a weekend is a burden for us.
Most coaches don’t even go with their team to bear the same weekend that we are subjugated to. I fully believe that these coaches understand Cedar Point weekends suck, even if it seems like it is to a small extent. These coaches would have a newfound understanding of what it is like for us if they went as well—or even participated themselves.
To be honest, a Cedar Point weekend isn’t a trip into a POW camp, as you might have insinuated from my description.
You may be reading this thinking that I am just another whiny millennial, pouting about something I have to do.
I fully understand that in Division III sports fundraising is a necessary beast. I fully understand that Cedar Point is a fantastic, quick way to raise a lot of money. This is abundantly clear to not only me, but to all the athletes who go.
We, and I think I speak for the most of the athletes on campus who participate in this fundraiser, just want a little bit of help. We just want some support.
$20. If every player received $20 for the weekend that would show abundant support for the players. Spending $30 to $ 50 in one weekend just isn’t viable for college students to be spending.
The old cliché that college students are broke is anything but a cliché. It’s a hard truth.
Another help for the teams working these fundraisers would be knowing the coach is there with them, supporting them and mentoring them.
Athletics is a brotherhood, for lack of a better phrase, and knowing their leader is there enduring the same weekend builds a support that can’t be replicated.
Finally, for the student athletes who find themselves working at Cedar Point for a fundraiser in the following weeks. Tough it out.
There are worse things that you could be doing then making money for a team that you’re committed to.
For those in positions who can change some things, please help us out a little, it will go a long way.