Pamela Sherratt
Pamela Sherratt

Pamela Sherratt on adapting to life amid the pandemic

The word “adapt” is the word I think we all need to embrace in 2021, since I don’t think we are getting back to “normal” anytime soon. In fact, we may never get back to normal.

This is a time for us to evaluate how we do things, and make some changes. Jesse Potter, speaking at the seventh annual Woman to Woman conference in 1981, said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”

If you had a wish for the sports field management industry this year, what would it be? Here are my wishes:

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Wish #1: My first wish would be that vaccines roll out quickly to all, including children, and that infections decrease enough to allow us to engage with each other. A reduction in infections would also reduce the amount of times sports field managers are being tested for COVID. One friend told me that he gets tested two to three times per day if the team is at home. Most importantly, our children need to be back in school. As the parent of a middle schooler and high schooler, I can tell you that 12 months away from school has taken its toll. No child should be using the word “depressed,” but sitting at a computer for 6.5 hours a day will do that to you. The opposite of happiness is boredom, after all. As adults, we need human interaction too. Our mental and physical health depends on it. 

Wish #2: Appreciation for sports field managers. Hopefully 2020 showed owners and administrators the importance of sports field managers. Who can forget the Reds grounds crew being revered by their team, or the many field managers we saw included in game celebrations? 2020 provided the opportunity to see who did what in the organization, and administrators surely concluded that the people taking care of the playing surfaces were essential. I hope that leads to a place at the table where agronomic decisions are being made, with workable budgets and adequate personnel.

Wish #3: Prioritize wellbeing. For many, a welcome benefit of the past year was the opportunity to spend quality time family. Let’s keep that going. There’s no reason sports field managers have to work themselves to death, sleep in their offices, and miss so much of their personal lives. Let’s put our wellbeing front and center.

Wish #4: Spread the love. 2020 reminded us that life is precious. So, ask yourself, what will your legacy be? If nothing else, let it be kindness. Every young person should be positively influenced by a caring adult in his or her life, which, unfortunately, is not always the case. As sports field managers, there are opportunities to mentor young people and help them be successful. We can be a positive influence in each other’s lives too. A short thank you note, appreciative e-mail or a text of encouragement can mean a lot to someone who’s struggling.

Wish #5: Diversify our industry. I would love to see the sports field management industry represent U.S. demographics and embrace people of different genders, cultures, races, ethnicities and social-economic backgrounds. Many benefits of a diverse workforce have been identified: different perspectives bring new ideas and a wider talent pool, creativity and productivity increase, retention rates and employee satisfaction improve, and brand/reputation is enhanced. There are many ways we can do this, starting with initiatives from our national board of directors and trickling down to our state chapters and sports facilities. What can your team do to improve diversity?

These are just some of my wishes. Spend some time to make your own wish list and come up with a plan to make it a reality. This is the perfect time to do it. 

Pamela Sherratt is Sports turf extension specialist at The Ohio State University.