Of all the workplace stats tracked related to the Super Bowl, hours of productivity lost, absenteeism, presenteeism, the pressure to buy $10 squares even though you loathe Brad in receivables, we’ve somehow missed keeping track of how many people lose their jobs due to fan allegiances each year. Without these numbers, how can we full grasp the plight of the newly unemployed each and every winter?
In an effort to help the Department of Labor, we can now tell you that number that we know of so far is one. 17 year-old Nathaniel Wentz in Tacoma worked at Odyssey 1 family fun center (laser tag!) where employees were instructed to wear jerseys on game days to show their spirit. When Wentz arrived in a Broncos jersey and not a Seahawks jersey, he was sent home to change. His father (ooh boy) called the owner to ask for clarification on the policy but did not receive a return call, so Wentz stayed home. The next day, he found out he had been released from his position.
Presumably the next calls his father made were to the local television news stations because in the next day he and his son sat for interviews with KUSA and KING, with the national media quickly picking up the story.
After initially declining to comment, Odyssey 1 released a statement via its Facebook page, stating:
To show support for The Seattle Seahawks on game day, our employees may choose to wear a Seahawks Jersey in place of our standard uniform, which is required. To prevent any possible conflicts, the option of wearing other teams’ jerseys is not allowed. The employee reported to work in an unauthorized uniform and was asked to change into a standard uniform. Soon after he left to change into an accepted uniform, we received a phone call stating that he was not returning to work, leaving his position unfilled and creating extra stress for the staff covering his job on a busy weekend day.
So there you go. Kid goes to work in jersey not allowed by employer, is sent home to change, leaves the laser tag court shorthanded, has his father call to complain, loses job.
How are local Seattle fans reacting to the new unemployment statistic of one person being fired for wearing the opposing team’s jersey? According to the KUSA report, not well. “I think it’s crazy. We’re civilized here. It’s not like we live in Philadelphia!” exclaimed Seahawks fan Bernie Crump. Yet this incident isn’t without precedent in the Tacoma area, as a child was sent home from school in 2011 for wearing a Steelers jersey and not a Seahawks jersey in 2011.
Generally I’m on the side of labor in the “us against the man” situations, but as someone who has had a lot of crappy retail supervisor positions in my life where I had to oversee teenagers working in some of their first jobs (and the parents that come with them), to hell with this kid. He’s now says he’s happy he lost his job because it means he gets to sit home and watch the Super Bowl. Bully for him. He’s now learned some valuable workplace lessons; no one likes the person who rocks the boat, your parents can’t always save you when you defy the rules, and you are in fact expendable.
Good luck kid. Hope these lessons make for a good college application essay.