The Alliance of American Football,
The news reports only tell part of the story. My name is Chris Kuehn, and six months ago I accepted the position of assistant equipment manager with the Salt Lake Stallions. Like many others, I left a job, moved to Salt Lake City and was promised a chance to be part of something special. Players, coaches, staff and many others left stable jobs, families, and places they called home for a false promise of a football startup that was financed for the next three years.
Over the past six months, the amount of work I had put into the Salt Lake Stallions and The Alliance was nothing I could have ever imagined. Within two weeks of starting the job, my department head and myself realized we were extremely understaffed. We could have complained and let the Stallions suffer, but instead, we made it work. Coworkers from other departments could see the heavy workload we had, and they immediately stepped in and helped where they could.
I had never worked so hard within the first three weeks of working with The Alliance than I have in my entire life, averaging around three hours of sleep each night. The thing that drove me those first three weeks was the fact that this was the profession I was striving for, and I was going to do everything in my power to perform at my highest ability.
After week three, we finally got some additional help as training camp was coming to a close -- but this was only the tip of the iceberg. This was only the beginning. Moving takes a lot out of you and over these past six months, we practiced at eight different practice locations. It felt as though we could never get settled in. Our hotel rooms were our equipment rooms, and it felt like we never left work. We never had a break. The next three months were very tough, but I looked for the light at the end of the tunnel -- I knew at the end of the season I was still going to get paid my salary for the rest of the year, so it was going to be worth it.
Then budget cuts were made for the rest of the year. The Alliance higher ups told us this was to make this thing league last for the upcoming seasons.
If you work in sports you know how good game days feel. If you don’t, imagine when a plan, project, or event come to fruition and you get to see everyone’s hard work pay off. Players, coaches, football staff, office staff, league staff, fans, and vendors all come together to see final product put on display. Even this was taken away with two weeks left in the season. Loyal fans were even hung out to dry.
There had been signs that the league was suffering. As equipment staff, we were not given food on the plane for return trips. We had just worked so hard all day getting the locker room set-up, uniforms ready, sideline set-up, coaches and staff clothing prepped, and packing this all up after the game. We were exhausted. While game days were worth the effort because it was when you truly saw a team come together, we hadn’t eaten since three hours before the game. There is no bigger slap in the face than smelling food all around you on the flight back home, but not being able to eat it. Sure, players offered us their own food, but of course I would have felt guilty if I accepted. Coaches and player personnel individuals weren’t eating because they did not feel right if everyone didn’t have the privilege of eating. This should have been a sign.
Then Black Tuesday hit. Reports came out in the morning that this whole thing might be coming to an end. The communication from the league was non-existent, and it was complete chaos. People were blindsided, salaries and health care were taken away, no severances were given and plane tickets home were at everyone’s own expense.
Over the last couple months, I felt used and taken advantage of. Not only that, I felt as though I was given the power to take advantage of other people. This is completely against my morals, and I feel extremely bad for all the vendors I made promises to on behalf of the league. The extent of people hurt by this poor business model is staggering and will never be made right.
Reflecting back on these six months made me realize the “Alliance” was never about the organization. It was about the people who made up this so-called union. The coaches, players, equipment staff, medical staff and office staff are all one big alliance now, and we can grow because of the experience and relationships we have built. Everyone I worked with over these past couple months deserves a second chance. If you have a business that is hiring, please reach out to these individuals. I can promise you they will work harder than anyone knowing that nothing is guaranteed.
“Take Today’s mantra” is about making the most out of every day and taking risks others may not take. We all took the risk of working for The Alliance. We may have lost our jobs, but one thing they will never take away from us is the relationships we have built with each other. We will all become stronger because of this experience. Although it’s hard at the moment, we must look to the future with hope. As a company, we want to encourage individuals to never give up and Take Today like it’s their final day on earth. We hope our clothes are a reminder of this.
If you would like to purchase any of our items as a reminder or a way for you to tell your story, please visit our online store.
Don’t forget: Take Today!