A View From The Sky(Box)

A View From The Sky(Box)

Have you ever dreamed of watching a sporting event from a sky box?

As a lifelong sports fan and a die-hard Blackhawks fan, I've long thought about the special amenities given to the fortunate few who sit encased in glass above the "regular" folks at sporting events. It's been an underlying dream of mine to get the opportunity to sit in a sky box with the "bigwigs". I mean, what could be better than carelessly loading up on decadent food and drinks while watching the game from (literal) new heights?

I was recently afforded the opportunity to experience a sky box firsthand. A friend invited me along as she played liaison for a company-sponsored outing; now, I know all the ins and outs of living the high life in sky box seating.**

1. Getting there requires taking a special elevator.

In order to get to the skybox area, we had to take an elevator that is roped off specifically for skybox ticket holders. The elevator is only accessible via the third floor, and at that, is hard to find. Once we found it, however, we were swiftly greeted by one security guard who directed us into the elevator. Another guard rode it with us after checking our tickets again, making sure we got to our sky box safely.

2. There are a lot of people involved in the process.

After our initial encounter with the special roped-off elevator guard and the elevator riding guard, we were then faced with our third obstacle guard. Guard three was on the sky box floor where a second roped-off area awaited us. We stood in line for about a minute before our tickets were triple-checked and we were sent to the room.

3. The hallway seems to go on for forever.

The tickets had a difficult-to-understand number on it. "P47" meant nothing to us, so we walked and walked, and after about 10 minutes of walking through a seemingly endless hallway, we stumbled upon a room with a shimmery "47" on the side of the door. At any moment, though, if we went back into the hallway, we easily could have gotten lost on our way back to our box.

4. Sharing a sky box with 15+ strangers makes it feel pretty small.

Since this was an event where a family had won a silent auction for the skybox, my friend played hostess for her company while I was her guest. We were in a room with the winning family throughout the duration of the game, and because of that, I had to check myself time and time again. By "check myself," I mean I had to be more cognizant of my mannerisms, language, and all-around personality as I was in the presence of strangers and children. And if you know me at all, you'd know I don't have the cleanest mouth during hockey games.

5. You have to deal with other people's personalities.

I personally am not a fan of meeting 10+ new people at a time, but when you're thrown into a situation where you will inevitably be surrounded by new faces, you kind of have to put on a smile, suck it up and be social. We were prepared to keep a low profile and not draw attention to ourselves, but after being inside of the room for a mere two minutes, a woman came up to us and tartly asked: "Do you know where you're supposed to be?" That greeting pretty much set the mood for the entire evening.

6. The food is lackluster at best.

I don't know what kind of spread I had envisioned the sky box would contain, but in reality, I was disappointed. For $1000 dollars' worth of food, I expected more than hot dogs, Italian beef, and finger sandwiches as the main dishes; one bowl of communal popcorn and potato chips as a side; and a small grouping of soda, water bottles, and inexpensive wine as the drink selection. I know, I know. Some of you will be like "that sounds great!" Normally, I'd agree, but for all the hype behind the free food in the sky box, the selection was less than intriguing. Plus, there was an issue with the dessert cart that resulted in us having no dessert. How much of a bummer is that?!

7. There's a huge table that, if you sit at it, blocks your view of the game.

Sky boxes are supposed to be the epitome of comfort while watching a sports game. However, our experience fell far from comforting. With only six up-front seats that were taken by the host's children, we were relegated to sitting inside the sky box at a table with some of the winners' family members. In theory, this would have been a wonderful thing (for a guest of the winner or a casual hockey fan), but as a die-hard, not being able to sit in actual seats to watch the game (while having my view blocked by a table) defeated the purpose of the "luxurious" accommodations. I ended up standing the entire evening just so I could watch the game.

8. You can't openly cheer your team's accomplishments, ream the opponents' missteps, or curse your agony to the Heavens.

As stated in number four, throughout the duration of the game, I had to keep my thoughts and expressions under wraps. Objectively, I'm not an obnoxious sports fan, but I am vocal and expressive when the moment calls for it. However, I could be neither of those things while surrounded by the quiet, seemingly uninterested crop of people around me. Their lack of enthusiasm really killed the mood, but I cheered quietly to myself and mumbled my thoughts about penalties, checks, and missed calls through the night.

9. There's a lack of companionship and the "family" vibe.

If you're even slightly familiar with hockey, you're well aware that the hockey and NHL community is like one big family. When the high tensions between rival teams boil down, we all come together as one supportive, tight-knit group. We support each other's playoff rituals, "silly" superstitions, and wild game day antics. Plus, sitting by complete strangers normally opens the door to meeting a new group of friends. We share knowledge, opinions, and predictions about the game, other teams, and whatever else comes to mind. Unfortunately, none of that happened in the sky box. The guests spoke only among themselves and not about hockey at all. It kind of sucked being stuck in a place where I knew I was one of the only people interested in the actual game.

10. The food remnants and mess left behind is incredibly despicable.

Now, this was probably the most annoying part of the evening. I come from the mindset that you clean up after yourself even when there is hired help to come clean up after you. No, I don't think that means you're obligated to sweep up or wash the tables, but it's not that hard to throw your own garbage away and not leave a mess. That being said, as the game ended and the room cleared out, I looked around to garbage everywhere: half-eaten sandwiches, plates with food still on them, partially finished beverages...the list goes on. And despite the garbage being an annoyance, what got on my nerves, even more, was the waste of food. I thought about how the room cost $10,000, and how the food cost $1,000, and how at least $650 worth of food sat on tables untouched. I'm not saying people should gorge themselves, but the mere fact that so much food is wasted in the "luxurious" skybox makes me cringe with discomfort.

All-in-all, I thanked my friend for a lovely evening. Despite the downfalls of the mediocre skybox experience, she treated me to a hockey game where the Hawks beat the Sharks in a thrilling 4-1 comeback finish! And really, that's what going to a game's all about: the hockey being played on ice and getting to spend time with someone, watching the game together.

But in the future, I know I'd much rather stick to sitting in the nosebleeds (300-level seating), spending a pretty penny on good food, and sharing my thoughts with 22,000 other wonderful people all around me than sitting in an exclusionary, over-expensive glass box in the sky.

**Note, this rant-filled list is based solely on my experience at the United Center in Chicago, IL while attending a Chicago Blackhawks game on 12/18/2016. Additionally, my experience was unique as I saw the game in a shared sky box with strangers, not a close group of my own friends.

I cannot guarantee that this is a typical experience for other sporting venues or different leagues whatsoever, so take this with a grain of salt.

Cover Image Credit: Suite Experience Group

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Tiger Woods' 2019 Masters Victory Means More Than Winning a Tournament

At the 2019 Masters, Tiger Woods defined what a comeback story truly means.


For the last week now I have tried to process the events that transpired in the world of golf. As many of you may know by now, I am a fanatic for Tiger Woods. I have watched as one of the greatest athletes to ever grace this earth fell from his pinnacle. I have watched as he and his family were brutally subject to a national embarrassment. I have watched as one of the greatest athletic bodies in all of golf was twisted and contorted through 4 back surgeries and physical rehabilitation. I have watched as critics and fans alike believed that his professional career was over. That he would no longer be a competitive golfer and that he should just retire instead of trying to recreate something that had gone awry.

Today I can say with the utmost of certainty that this is no longer the case. Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters last week in dramatic fashion. Here are the stats plain and simple. Woods had never won a major tournament after trailing entering the last day of competition. Woods had also not won a major in more than 11 years and his most recent Master's victory was in 2005. Last week, Woods entered Sunday just two strokes behind the leader Francesco Molinari. At the end of the day, Woods won the event.

I have stood by this man's side as a loyal fan for the last 11 years and seen all that he has endured. For me, his victory was unequivocally the greatest moment in all of the sports. Period. There really aren't enough words for me to sum up the magnitude of this event and in the fashion that it took place. I still am speechless a week later. As I sat watching the final round unfold from a live stream on my phone (as I was in a car driving back from Florida), I was in actual tears. I knew that Tiger Woods would be a winner again. What I didn't know is that he was destined to return back to his place in history as the greatest golfer to ever live. The race for Jack Nicklaus 18 major championship victories mark is now back in contention - something that has not been highly considered for the last decade. What Tiger Woods did on Sunday at the Masters is greater than the sport of golf. It goes beyond athletics and winning. It demonstrates the story of grit, relentless toughness in the face of adversity and most importantly, it epitomizes never giving up.

For this current generation of young golfers who grew up idolizing Woods, they saw and heard first hand the return of the roars that followed Tiger every time he stepped onto a golf course. For runner up's Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele, they were not mad that they had lost, rather they were happy that Woods had won. They both said in their post-round interviews that the atmosphere and energy that was felt at this tourney was unrivaled to any other sporting event they had played in. It was because of one man, wearing his notorious "Sunday red" as he remained unflappable in the face of his opposition. On the 12th hole, a short par-3 that faces the infamous Rae's Creek, Woods demonstrated his poise and maturity. 5 of the top 6 players in the field hit the ball well short of the hole and landed in the water. The only player not to do so was Tiger who chose to aim well left of the hole and play for par. It was here, with 6 holes left to play that Woods reclaimed the lead. Fans and players were all aware of what was to transpire, they could feel that Tiger was ready to pound.

For me, Tiger Woods' victory will be a moment in my life that I will never forget. More importantly, he unified an entire nation to sit down glued to their televisions and watch the final round play out. I had friends reaching out to me to let me know that they were tuned in to witness history unfold, people who aren't golf fans in the slightest. This demonstrates in the most minimal way possible the magnitude and importance of this win. It was bigger than golf. It was something that young fans and old ones alike will cherish indefinitely. For that, I thank you Tiger Woods. You made all of the moments where we as sports fans wanted to let you go and move on to this new era of talented golfers worth sticking by your side. You brought a country with such polarization and difference together to watch a round of golf. And lastly, you made a fan of yours believe in something bigger than sports, but rather, believe in comebacks and hope. Tiger Woods you will always be my hero.

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