Waterboys in Football: Why?

As I do every weekend, I watched a little football (college and NFL) on Saturday and Sunday. There was a moment during one of the games that I noticed something odd. I’ve seen this hundreds of times before, but I never realized how weird it is.

A player ran over to the sidelines after making a big play, and a waterboy showed up at his side. The waterboy held a water bottle up to the player’s helmet, squirted some liquid (water or Gatorade) into the player’s mouth, and walked away.


I’d like to look at this from a few angles. The first is from the angle of the waterboy him/herself. Now, I truly don’t want to belittle anyone from making a living (apparently NFL waterboys make $53k a year). But why? Your job is to squirt water in another human being’s mouth. Isn’t it a bit…demeaning?

The second is from the angle of the player himself. Why would you want someone else to squirt water in your mouth when you could easily do it yourself? In fact, you can probably do it better than someone else, as you can control the velocity, angle, and synchronization with your mouth.

Think about this for a second, dear reader. Imagine yourself at work tomorrow, and you get thirsty. Instead of taking a sip of water, someone runs over to you and squirts water in your mouth. Just on a level of human interactions, would that make you comfortable?

As I write this, I realize that I’m judging something without trying it, which isn’t fair. Tomorrow I’m going to try to be someone’s waterboy for one sip and have someone else be a waterboy for one sip. Maybe I’m way wrong about this.

What do you think? Have you ever served as a waterboy or been served by one? Would you want to?

10 thoughts on “Waterboys in Football: Why?”

  1. The only reason I can think of to explain the purpose/benefit of the waterboy in football is to ensure that the player’s hands aren’t getting wet between plays from the water bottle? If they are in a hurry to get back in the action, there’s a chance that they might squeeze the bottle too hard or angle it oddly with the helmet and end up with a wet hand. Having water on their hands might make it harder to grip the ball or affect how it is weighted when thrown?

  2. It’s a misleading job title, from an online post, their usually athletic trainers in this day and age.

    Water boy is a misleading term. Typically they’re people with sports medicine degrees and their duties include more than water and Gatorade. They tape the players when needed, help with hydration, help with rehab, assist with stretching, and so on. That doesn’t even mention the hours. They’re in the facility all week helping players recover or they’re out at practice or they’re there hours before the game on Sunday and there for hours afterwards.

  3. This is why my work contract has a provision requiring a giant water bottle be mounted to the corner of my office, hamster-cage style, just so I can avoid these type of interactions, while also avoiding the indignity of actually having to hold a cup.

  4. Jamey,

    We tried that in Chess Club and it made such a mess…everyone wore glasses and we either ended up getting too close to someone’s face or we completely missed their mouths. Yeah, it’s really an artform best left to professional athletes on the field.


  5. I literally just had a whole conversation with husband on this topic- thank you for making me laugh so hard – I cried! Way too funny- you get me!


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