The Trouble With Finish Line Guys
There are people who put forward sweat equity to make an event happen.
There are also “finish line” guys, who provide useless comments disguised as constructive criticism, don’t volunteer but then want a say in everything.
The trouble with “finish line” guys is that they often get more attention, mainly because they have nothing to preoccupy their time. They immediately inject their opinion to the event organizer as valid, and don’t care about the big picture. It is a presumption of their ego being more important than the event’s purpose. And again, they help the least to pull it off.
But when it comes to being recognized, or to hold up a glass of champagne on an event well-done, they want as much credit, if not more, than those who actually created the event success.
I was reminded of how invasive “finish line” guys are while volunteering at the Lacey Chamber of Commerce’s South Sound BBQ Festival (July 7, 2018), which draws over 15,000 locals to one of the biggest events in the county. The Lacey Chamber’s executive director did a great job at pulling off the eighth annual event, yet mentioned that I was one of the few to compliment her for it. Everyone else had “constructive criticism” for her on event improvements.
My suggestion back to her: Offer them a volunteer application.
Equity without sweat equity is essentially bullshit participation.
It’s easy to give suggestions when you don’t have to pour beer and care-take in the beer garden, chop up thousands of pounds of BBQ amid smoke, or do a garbage-pick up in the street after the event is over when you are tired and everyone else has either gone home or is having fun.
Working in event management for college athletics and pro sports, I’ve dealt with a ton of “finish line” guys. They often want to stop you mid-event, while you are hustling, to say some inane easily-forgotten comment or question why you aren’t smiling enough. Mainly because they don’t understand that, mid-event, you are attempting to ensure that logistically, that they as the guest are having fun while you are working.
The Eagle Athletic Association’s former president Sam Anderson was the only person who “got me” at Eastern Washington University Athletic Events. He would freeze up when he saw me running past during football games and say “I’m not going to bother you.”
I used to hate the fact that our fans had two impressions of our events at the various places that I worked. The “finish line” guys who always wore suits, stood around with a beer in hand, and acted like they were working. And then there were those who were in polos, racing to get something done because time was crucial, who didn’t have time for small talk.
Guess which of ones not only earned the most money but also gained the most recognition? That says something about why people who ascend to the top level jobs in an athletic department start doing the least. They see what is rewarded and what is not.
It was often the “finish line” guys that used to comment to me that “our staff could be friendlier” or “how much our staff can’t also do X.” Those “finish line” guys never presented themselves as available to help with the job, but always loved partaking in the erroneous “servant leadership” model as if they were a prime example because they picked up a piece of garbage in the parking lot. If you have time to wear a suit during an event that you are running, you really aren’t working, you’re in the way. Sorry, executives, “servant leadership” is a bogus pat on the back for an executive, much like when the athletic director claims “work-life balance” while your SID or ticket person works 90 hours a week to pull off a football or basketball season.
If you’re doing this, you’re a “finish line” guy: there to celebrate when the job is pulled off, in which your participation was minimal except for your large salary.