After the COVID-19 pandemic cut the winter sports season short, Cal Poly Athletics’ event staff was deemed “non-essential.” While the event staff members have not been laid off as of now, the effects of the suspension have still been felt among the student workers.
“The moment that sports were considered cancelled, we were more or less without a job,” political science sophomore Austin McLellan said.
Cal Poly Athletics’ event staff assists with game day operations, such as security, ticket-taking, crowd control, maintaining the playing surface for the athletes, set up, take down and cleaning of the facilities after a game.
McLellan said that the event staff are essential to sports operations due to the role they play to make sure games go as planned.
“It’s kind of a vital role because [Cal Poly sports teams] don’t have people that are hired to set up the gym for us besides students,” business sophomore Nicole Cavote said.
McLellan said his bosses confirmed that the California State University will be administering an emergency pay to many of its employees. The employees that were scheduled to work on the weeks that games were initially scheduled are expected to receive some pay in the future.
But without a steady stream of income, Cavote said she now has to “budget a lot more” compared to when she was working.
“The reason I [got the job] in the first place was because I’m a walk-on [for Cal Poly Volleyball], so I don’t have a full scholarship. It was just extra money to pay for groceries and stuff,” Cavote said. “I’m also very much of a busy bee. I need to be moving or doing something all the time, so I’m getting very restless and bored and missing it a lot. It’s been kind of sad.”
The impact of the sports suspension is also reaching beyond current employees to future employees. McLellan said he recently got hired for a second job as Equipment Manager for the Mustang’s football team, but was unable to properly train due to coronavirus concerns.
“I’ve been hired on, but I have really no clue what I’m going to be doing because we haven’t been able to train, we haven’t been able to gather,” McLellan said.
McLellan and Cavote have hope that everyone on the event staff will remain in their job positions if sports return in the Fall. If Fall sports do make a return, Cavote said there will have to be precautionary measures applied in order to keep the event staff safe.
“I’m picking things up and handing things to other people and I think a lot of things are going to change when we come back,” Cavote said. “Things are going to be different. A lot of social distancing will be put into place and a lot more masks will be worn for us if we’re handling food or anything.”
Aside from the concern of coronavirus, the event staff said they cannot wait until the day they are cleared to clock-in again.
“At the end of the day, I really miss my job,” McLellan said. “It was always great supporting fellow Mustangs.”