Published: Jan 30, 2009
University of Tampa student Alex Miles stands in the middle of a sea of
people, speaking into a walkie-talkie as he scans the crowd. Around him,
thousands of people enjoy a variety of games, throwing footballs at
targets, making field goals, and practicing their touchdown dances.
is what’s known as a “zuper.” That’s “super” with a “z.” He is one of
five zupers charged with overseeing the smooth operation of the Tampa’s
NFL Experience, and one of about 40 UT students working with the 5,000
volunteers staffing the temporary theme park in the week leading up to
Super Bowl XLIII.
A junior sport management major, Miles has
helped manage and maintain a number of sporting events, including Tampa
Bay Lightning hockey games, but none of this size and magnitude.
have to make sure everyone is happy and that people who maybe can’t
afford a Super Bowl ticket still have the ability to take part in it,”
Miles has direct authority over the area managers in
his zone, one of five zones into which the many attractions are divided
inside the NFL Experience. UT senior Alfonso Hernandez and sophomore
Amy Kerr each maintain one of the other five zones, directly supervising
the area managers who oversee volunteers staffing each attraction.
basic task is to ensure that each of the NFL Experience’s attractions
is adequately staffed at all times and that all volunteers are keeping
the attractions running smoothly.
It is a job that keeps them on
their feet, hustling through crowds and dispatching volunteers to areas
receiving heavier traffic. The job also has its perks – like sightings
of Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jeff Garcia and Derrick Brooks and an up-close
view of the Vince Lombardi trophy.
“I came to school thinking
that I wanted to be a professional sports agent,” Miles said. “But ever
since, it’s really opened my eyes and showed that you don’t just have to
be an agent or a coach to work in sport.”
Miles co-founded the
Sports and Entertainment Management Society (SEMS) in the fall of 2007.
The organization helped provide a path toward volunteer opportunities
with events like the Clearwater Ironman competition and the United
Soccer League’s Super Y soccer fest.
Miles added that he has
considered a career in academia, teaching sport management at the
college level, or possibly becoming a college athletic scout.
event is also one of a wide range of sport experiences with which
Hernandez has been involved. In his time at UT, he has done everything
from conducting post-game interviews for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to
managing the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“The NFL Experience is one of the biggest events I’ve done,” said
Hernandez, also a sport management major. “The opportunities are always
there. You’ve just got to grab them. The business is so broad, I’m
basically trying to experience a lot of things.”