Once a week, SEC Digital Media Director Eric SanInocencio will share insights on the inner-workings of the conference office.
Birmingham, Ala. -- If you click over on the SEC's official Facebook page
, it takes about five seconds to see fans claiming their allegiance among the 12 school nation this conference has become.
Auburn fans are praising Cam Newton, Gators fans talk about "chomping" the next opponent, and the fans in Tuscaloosa keep reminding all who is the defending National Champion.
The SEC has become a giant sports arena, with 12 distinct areas marked off for each school that competes in the league. When the time comes for "battle" on Saturday, the sides are quickly drawn. The competition is intense, the passion is unrivaled. If you go to any stadium in the SEC, you understand, football is a religion.
No matter whether you are a banker, farmer or student, you root with all of your heart's content as your favorite team or alma mater charges down the field. Well, I should say, there is one profession that can make this difficult to do. I present to you, working for the SEC.
To a greater degree, this can be said of anyone that works as a professional in the sports world. I mean, you will see the sign the moment you walk into any press box.
"This is a working area. Cheering in the press box will not be allowed."
What does that mean? Essentially, your allegiances and emotions are checked at the door. So if you are an Arkansas alum or work for the Razorbacks and see Ryan Mallett throw a 60-yard TD pass...? You can't even blink. No arm raising, no high fives to the co-worker standing next to you in the Arkansas polo shirt. Nothing. You have to act like it didn't even happen.
Think it’s easy to stay calm? Ok, here's an experiment. Try this on a Saturday. Sit down in front of your TV as your favorite team plays, and try to not make one loud noise throughout the broadcast. Yes, throwing your hat against the wall counts. Can't do it? Frustrated? Welcome to working in sports. Another small tradeoff for getting to work at events people go to for entertainment.
Needless to say, this can take some getting used to. I've been privileged to be at some epic contests in the SEC, and for a second you have to catch yourself before being a fan creeps into your professional appearance. I mean, we are all fans of sports at our core, so "switching" that off during some of the most exciting moments of the year can be a daunting task.
My first official day on the job at www.secsports.com
was last year's Alabama-Florida matchup at the SEC Championship game. Standard opening salvo to any job right? Easy, just punch the clock. I mean, this was only just the number one versus number two matchup that was billed as the "true National Championship" game in some circles. Nothing big, seen it all before. I hope you can detect my sarcasm. I was stoked!
You can't help but be excited. I didn't even go to an SEC school in college, but watching both squads warm-up on the field, you could feel the buzz. 80,000 people, TV cameras everywhere, fans screaming for their teams. For me however, I put on a stone face as if I was trying to execute a bluff in poker.
Not that it should ever get this way, because we are beyond lucky to be employed in this line of work, but you start to get numb to the situation. Even when Mark Ingram tip-toed down the sideline during the SEC Championship Game, I hardly got excited.
When Kentucky tied Mississippi State right before the buzzer in one of the best SEC Men's Basketball Tournament Finals I can remember, it was another day at the office. Even if DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall nearly took out my side of the press table during their celebration.
So, if you want to work in this business, you will have to complete the following checklist. Turn in your shakers, hand over your favorite team shirt, and learn to keep quiet during the game's most tense moments. Easy huh?
Now you understand how I have to explain to friends when they say, "What team do you root for during the season?” I say, "I root for the SEC."