By Arlinda Smith Broady - The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionShelia M. PooleJ. Scott Trubey - The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionBo Emerson - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jan 29, 2019
With an influx of people in metro Atlanta for Super Bowl 53, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has taken time to highlight five faces in the crowd of thousands each day leading up to the big game. They may be from miles away, or they may be your neighbor. Here are the five stories from Tuesday you should know.
Youngster’s goal: Convert soccer fans to football lovers
Carlos Serrano is little bit of a rebel.
Just about everyone he knows: friends, neighbors, extended family, are die-hard soccer fans. But he’s working on winning them over to the American version of football. He persuaded a group to drive from the suburbs into downtown Atlanta to take part in Super Bowl LIII festivities on Sunday.
“It doesn’t have as much movement as soccer, but when the players are running around and scrambling for a loose ball or something like that, it can be just as exciting,” said the 9-year-old.
Although his dad won’t give up the sport he’s loved since childhood, Javier Serrano said he’s warmed up considerably to the funny-shaped ball and all the pads and gear worn by NFL players.
“You have to look at their jerseys to tell who the players are,” he said through translation from Carlos.
The family immigrated from Latin America a few years ago, and he’s still working on perfecting his English.
The family loves Atlanta United, and they are proud that their adopted community won the championship this year.
“It was a big party!” shouted Milan Serrano, who held up so many fingers when asked his age the reporter couldn’t tell if he was four or six — or something in between.
“It’s a nice day today — no rain and not so cold — so we’re hear to see all the special things Atlanta has done for football,” said Carlos. “We won’t be at the game, but I know Los Angeles will win.”
How does he know?
“They just have a certain something,” he said confidently.
— Arlinda Smith Broady
NFL cameraman: How to not get stomped on while shooting games
The business of sports television production has its own language, which camera operators speak fluently.
If you’re running one of multiple cameras at a football game, when there’s a fumble one operator will shoot the “goat” and one will shoot the “hero.”
One camera will be directed to “All 22,” meaning a wide shot that captures everyone on the field.
And any operator who is on the field with a hand-held camera will “keep your head on a swivel,” because no one likes to be crushed by a 250-pound linebacker.
“I have not been run over by a player on the field, because I’ve played the game growing up, I know to keep my eyes towards the field,” said Tracy Oden, a freelance camera operator who specializes in shooting football, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf and other sports.
The College Park resident played fullback and defensive tackle in high school in Chattanooga, but switched to the other side of the camera after college.
He’s learned how to deal with outdoor games in cold weather: Stuff an electric heating pad inside your clothes and bring a long extension cord.
This week Oden is not shooting the big game at the Benz, but shooting interviews for the NFL Network inside the Georgia World Congress Center. That, he said, is no disappointment. “At this point in my life,” said Oden, 53, “it’s not so much about the event. I just need them to spell the name right on the check.”
— Bo Emerson
Frenchman looks to experience American culture through sport
What better way to meet new friends than to be part of the most-watched sporting event in the United States?
Meet French transplant Anthony Mautret, 28, who moved to Atlanta six months ago from Paris. It’s not a permanent move, his visa is good for 18 months, but he’s determined to get to know his new countrymen.
Mautret is one of 10,000 volunteers for Super Bowl LIII.
“Super Bowl is one of the biggest sport events in the world, I am so exiting to live this event from the inside,” Mautret said in a email. “It’s my first time in this country and I think becoming volunteer for any sports event is the best way to meet people and discover the American culture. One of my objectives is to discover the American way of life and what’s better than the Super Bowl to reach it?”
Mautret loves to travel, but prefers to totally immerse himself in a culture rather than spend a few days in one location.
He lived for one year in Ireland, where he volunteered for various gymnastics events.
Doing so helped him discovered the Irish way of life, making some lifelong friends.
Every time he lives in a new country one of the first things he does is look for opportunities to volunteer, said Mautret, who works in marketing and sales for a French gymnastics clothes brand.
He’s not a big U.S. football fan — yet — but he loves sports.
Since moving to Atlanta, Mautret has watched several Atlanta Falcons games and visited Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
And he’s always open to learning new sports.
In Ireland he discovered Gaelic football. Here, its football, baseball and kickball.
— Shelia M. Poole
APD officer’s main duty during Super Bowl week: be visible
Atlanta Police Officer Matt Mason strode by Centennial Olympic Park on Monday and nodded to the vendors preparing to sell Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots shirts and hats.
“Hey, how’s it going,” said Mason, whose job for 10 days is to be visible. Mason, 26, is part of a contingent of officers — for security reasons the city won’t say how many — working what’s known as “safety post.”
The entire Atlanta force is working 12-hour shifts, including traffic cops, aviation and mounted police. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mason will man a post on foot near the park.
The sentries like Mason are a critical part of the law enforcement army — which include numerous local, state and federal agencies — swarming downtown. So far, the crowds have been tame, but it’ll get crazier come the weekend.
“We’ll be out here on our posts, rain, snow or sun,” Mason said, when asked about Tuesday forecasts calling for a possible winter storm.
Mason started in June as a beat cop working in downtown’s Zone 5 after six months at the academy and three months of field training.
He was working a human resources job in New York when he decided he wanted to be a cop. He found out about openings in Atlanta during a recruiting event.
He’d never been to Georgia before.
“I didn’t know anybody down here. No family,” he said. “I took the job and never looked back. People said I was crazy, but this is what I wanted to do. In this job your co-workers are your family.”
— J. Scott Trubey
Visitor from China savors a special bite from American life
The NFL boasts that one billion people in 200 countries have access to watch Super Bowl LII. Those numbers are similar for regular-season games as well. Just the ability to witness one of the United States’ greatest pastimes drew Yulin Guo to the sport.
Until a year or two ago, she said coverage was spotty and the games were kind of like the equivalent of tractor-pulling on local sports channels in her native China.
The 20-something student is on a vacation touring this country and found out by accident that the Super Bowl will be in Atlanta this year.
Although there is a professional football league in China with teams in Beijing, Hong Kong and other major cities, it hasn’t caught on nearly as well as another American sport — basketball. Most likely due to the popularity of former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming.
Sports analysts have predicted that the next decade may find meishi ganlanqiu, or “American-style football” a staple of middle-class Chinese culture.
“I love a lot of American things,” she said through a translator as she munched tortilla chips at the Super Bowl Live event at Centennial Olympic Park. “I haven’t eaten any Chinese food my entire trip.”
She said that like a lot of Chinese youth, she’s eager to embrace new things and experiences, and travel is a way to see it up front.
“I wouldn’t trade this for anything,” she said. “I’ll probably be talking about this the rest of my life.”