In a time where essential workers have never been more vital to society, LAFC head coach Bob Bradley has penned a new Op-Ed in the Athletic relaying a story that he hopes will act as a reminder of the value those workers have in our day to day lives, whether we’re in a time of crisis or not.
In the Op-Ed published on Thursday, Bradley shares one of his favorite stories from his days coaching the US men’s national team, with former USMNT equipment manager Jesse Bignami starring as the main character. Bignami, as Bradley writes, may have held a relatively unheralded role in terms of recognition and media coverage, but provided a service that was crucial to the team’s functioning and success.
“We call them essential workers,” Bradley wrote in the start of the piece. “Doctors. Nurses. Inhalation therapists. Grocery clerks. Janitors. Drivers. Law enforcement. COVID-19 has put a spotlight on them: The ones who are risking their lives to do what they have always done for us.
“We call them heroes now. But they have been essential all along. Lives depend on them every day. Our way of life does, too. Every group, every team, depends on people who rarely get thanked — the people who get noticed only on those rare occasions when they mess up, as all of us sometimes do.”
The piece centers around the story of Bigmani’s first game on the sideline with the Yanks in a friendly against China in San Jose in the lead-up to the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup. Unbeknownst to Bigmani, the team had instituted a new communication system that would allow assistant coach Peter Nowak to sit high above the stadium and relay observations to fellow assistant Mike Sorber on the bench, which would lead to a comedic miscommunication with Bigmani that would go down in behind-the-scenes USMNT lore.
“The one day he messed up was also the day we cemented a relationship that would last for years,” Bradley wrote. “We could always count on Jesse. The story reminds us of how much he and Pam and Ivan and 20 other members of our team — the ones not on the roster and never mentioned in the media — contributed to our successes.
“And why does that story go untold? It’s because the daily work of mundane details is neither funny nor tragic enough to be entertaining. And because we’re not good enough at noticing everyone who makes essential contributions to our team. If there’s any silver lining in the cloud we’re now living in, it’s a reminder of the value those folks have to us.”