In the shadow of Rockets


AP Photo/David J. Phillip

New Orleans Pelicans’ Alexis Ajinca (42) goes up for a shot as Houston Rockets’ Corey Brewer (33), Dwight Howard (12) and Josh Smith, right, defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 2, 2016, in Houston. The Rockets won 100-95. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Fabian Brims, Contributor

At last week’s match against the New Orleans Pelicans, where the Houston Rockets won 100:95, two Houston Community College students were shadowing Rockets employees on the game day at the Toyota Center.

Houston Community College is an educational partner of the Houston Rockets.

Although not everyone is needed on the court, there are many more things to do on a game day from security, concessions, cameramen and journalists, dancers and performers and among many others, promoters.

Ivan Medina and myself, both HCC students, trailed in the footsteps of the promoters.

Even though the game started at 7pm, the workday for the promoters started at 2pm. By that time the stadium was already bustling hours before opened it to the audience.

After meeting the game day operations team responsible for all promotion activities during halftime and timeouts, there was a little tour through the arena before the preparations for the game began.

They folded hundreds of t-shirts that were going to be tossed in the audience, and helped find fans who are willing to participate in promotion events like the ‘Bud Light Thirst Half’, or a little race, where kids had to wear large shoes and jerseys and try to throw a basket.

Events like these are split between the members of the promotion group. Everybody makes sure his or her part is running without any interruptions, and us students were able to help.

The most interesting part was not the work itself. Being able to attend an NBA game is already an awesome experience, but when you get an all-area-pass for this, it’s priceless.

From an aerial view above the jumbotron monitor to the sideline and down to the catacombs of the arena, there were not many places the students didn’t get to see. They glimpsed behind the curtain of a world-class basketball match, which was a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity for us which we’ll never forget.

The partnership between HCC and the Houston Rockets continues, so watch out for future shadowing programs to be able to help the Houston Rockets with TV broadcasting, business operations or, like Medina and I last week, with game day promotions.

Ivan Medina described the experience:

“I have been to plenty of sporting matches, but I have never really payed attention to anything on the jumbotron besides the game info and any replays. Well, after my experience shadowing the Game Operations team for the Houston Rockets last week I have a whole new respect for the unseen, and unnoticed individuals responsible for your in-game entertainment.”

“The production meeting takes place fifteen minutes before doors open where everyone goes over their assigned schedules. In the world of sports nothing is predictable, there are no scheduled commercial breaks besides halftime, so everything is scheduled around time outs. Anything and everything could go wrong, so backups must be in place in case a planned segment does not work or possibly a timeout does not occur in a quarter.”

“The Game Operations team were kind enough to give Fabian and I actual assignments as if we were members of the team and not just two students given a backstage tour. My first assignment was to run up to section 430 and find two fans dressed in Rockets swag to receive a free seat upgrade and tickets to a future game. Once they were picked out, a message had to be sent upstairs so the cameramen know where to shoot during the second time out in the first quarter.”

“Our whole night was like this, we had to gather and make sure the people for these scheduled promos were in their seats the entire time until the segment was completed. It wasn’t all work though, we got to spend a considerable amount of time on the court before, during and after the game.”

“The Rockets winning made a great experience even better, I stood ten feet away from the team as streamers—that we set up—fired from the ceiling celebrating the victory. The whole experience was fun and extremely rewarding. I would highly recommend everyone sign up for the next shadowing program or possibly look for an opening in Game Operations in the summertime when they are hiring.”