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    10 Things I Learned While Working the NFL Draft 2024

    10 Things I Learned While Working the NFL Draft 2024

    I’m Taylor Hedrick, and I’m a digital specialist for Line Drive Sports Marketing. If you don’t know me, I’m a recent graduate of Grand Canyon University (class of ‘22, Go Lopes!) Even though it’s not necessarily in my job description, my role here affords me the ability to work on other sports related projects. This past month I had the opportunity to be a Production Coordinator for the NFL Draft.

     

    Working a huge event like the NFL Draft is a wild mix of highs and lows…not to mention a little different from my day to day here at Line Drive Sports Marketing. Like a lot of things in the world of sports business, there’s no official guidebook, so you often are thrown into the chaos and learn as you go.

     

    Ed wanted me to share my experiences by listing some of the more interesting ‘behind the scenes’ learnings that I had while working for the NFL Draft 2024. Here is my top 10 list:

    1. The second the Super Bowl ends, NFL Draft preparations begin. Contrary to popular belief, there’s very little downtime for NFL employees during the off-season. By the morning after Super Bowl LVIII, teams were already deep in planning for the NFL Draft 2024 just two months away.This is not the least bit unusual in the world of sports. Times when you think are less busy are simply not. Whether it’s operations or sponsorship, behind the scenes work in the world of sports is always a busy one.
    2. Locals love or hate you. When you arrive on site you quickly learn that local residents either love you or aren’t too thrilled. I found Detroit to be mostly welcoming but it really wasn’t your typical midwest big city. The people who were supposed to be were nice but others seemed to resent the disruption to their daily routines and the chaos that comes with such a large event.My advice to you is not to necessarily lead that you are a visitor in any circumstance. Just smile and be aware of your surroundings regardless of where you are. In sports, travel can be thrilling and it can also be a little difficult as you just don’t know where everything is and you don’t really have time to find out.
    3. Everything is built from the ground up in a matter of days/weeks. From setting up the initial theater structure to laying down the fiber optics, the NFL has the resources and capability to set up quickly. In this case, they started arriving almost a month before the first day of the Draft. It takes weeks to build everything up, only a couple of days for it all to disappear.
    4. Wearing comfortable shoes is key. This life lesson was one I learned the hard way. Some of the best advice I ever got when I first started working in sports was to invest in comfortable shoes and carry a second pair of shoes with you when you travel. This tip has saved me countless times. Just to give you an idea of the scale, I walked between 5 to 11 miles every day.
    5. Be kind to security staff. If you treat them with respect, they’ll reciprocate. I’ve seen too many people try to boss security around, thinking they know better—it never ends well. A helpful tip: offer them water, and snacks, and make an effort to learn their names. It can make all the difference when you need to run past a scanner or get somewhere quickly in the future.
    6. Something will go wrong, it’s just a matter of time. This truth comes fast and hard in sports. Whether it’s dealing with fans, teams, vendors or even staff you just don’t know what’s going to go awry or when. The ability to think on your feet and keep your head is key. Try to have a backup plan for every possible scenario. Stay calm in stressful situations and you’ll immediately differentiate yourself.
    7. Do you know who you just talked to? Be kind to everyone you encounter, you never know who you may be talking to. I literally scored us a new client when I was just being friendly to a man who later turned out to be a very famous member of the media. I can’t say who at this point but it looks like we’ll be helping him with his website.
    8. Find the puppies. I didn’t know this but every year the Draft has a segment for showcasing adoptable puppies from a local shelter. Whatever you do, DO NOT hold these adorable puppies, there’s a good chance they could have an accident and ruin your professional attire. Speaking from experience here.
    9. Get everyone’s phone number. Make it a point to get the name and number of everyone you meet. You never know when you might need a quick favor, like a forgotten prize item or a last-minute credential. This has helped me immensely in almost every event I’ve ever worked.
    10. Ask questions. There is no formal education or degree that prepares you for the scale of this type of event.The only way to gain experience is to shadow professionals and ask the right amount of questions, people won’t know you want to learn unless you tell them. Even those who have participated in more than 20 NFL Draft events are learning something new every year.

    I’m grateful for the experiences I get to have as a sports marketing professional. I know that I don’t necessarily get to see the plays during a big game or maybe the first round selection everyone is waiting for but in a small way I’m helping make that happen. That’s what I love about working in sports, behind the scenes where others never see.

     

    I always take time to pause and appreciate my surroundings. I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and to work for a company that affords me the time to do special things like this. If you ever work or attend a big sporting event, take time to step back and absorb all that’s happening around you. It’s oftentimes very overwhelming, but in the end I’m grateful to be a part of it.

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