I've been a sports fan as long as I can remember.  I've also been fortunate enough to be able to work in sports on several levels, and I have noticed a few people don't get the recognition they deserve.  Oh, yeah, the athletes get the big bucks, but where would they be without some of these irreplaceable individuals...

1)FOOTBALL TEE GRABBER...The kickoff can be the most exciting play on the gridiron.  And the kicker always starts it off, or course, by placing the ball correctly on the tee.  After the play is over, there's always some kid, some celebrity, even some dog, that runs out on the field and picks up the tee.  Do you realize how many devastating injuries have been avoided by these angels of mercy?  hey, I've fallen on those tees...it ain't pretty.

2)NASCAR PIT SIGN HOLDER...Pit stops are comment in all forms of racing.  But how do thses drivers know where to go?  It would look like Genesee Valley's parking lot at Christmas time if it wasn't for these brave souls, holding up a sign with their driver's number on it.  Maybe we should have those things at the malls...

3) CURLING SWEEPER...Obviously, one of the world's most exciting sports.  Sliding thar "rock" at nearly 4 mph on what looks like a frozen shufflebourd court.  The real athletes are the guys who frantically sweep the ice around the moving mass of metal to direct them properly onto the target.  Plus, imagine how clean these guy's floors and front porches must be.

4) PUCK FREEZER...That 6 oz.piece of rubber, that is nearly invisible on TV, needs to be cold before it hits the ice.  So somebody has to put them in the freezer, then put them in a bucket of ice behind the scorer's table.  If they were warm, they would bounce like, well, rubber, causing all sorts of mayhem.  Wait, on second thought...

5) HOME PLATE BRUSH MAKER...We are all familiar with the questionable eyesight of baseball umpires.  At home plate, they have to look over that huge chest protector...not to mention the obigatory 50-year-old beer gut.  Imagine if they didn't have something to clean off home plate so they could at least have a chance of seeing, or making an educated guess as to whether that pitch was in the strike zone.  They'd have to make the plate neon, or glowing, or heated, or something.  Thicker glasses might help, though.

There are so many more I've probably excluded.  Comment with your favorite unsung sports hero, like the guy who fills basketballs, or whoever grades the sand for women's beach volleyball...now that's one I'd like to try.