Many in the academy have that family member who asks at Thanksgiving, “Why don’t you get a job at [Insert Local University here]?” Most academics then explain that a downside of the profession is that it is difficult to pick where you live. However, below is a story that reflects how you never know what will happen.
When Steve was 11, his devoted sports fan father took him to a Saint Louis University men’s basketball game. They distributed small signs at the game that said “Go Billikens” and “Defense.” Steve waived these signs and got on the big screen, thinking it was the coolest thing ever. So at the next game, Steve made a sign saying “Spoonball” (after the coach Charlie Spoonhour) and again got on the big screen. Steve then proceeded to make more and more signs.
By Steve’s senior year of high school, he accumulated two art portfolios worth of signs that he waived at all the games and became known as “SluSignGuy.” Over the years, SluSignGuy got on the Sportscenter Top 10, had players and coaches frame their signs for their homes and offices, and had opposing fans steal and tear up signs.
11-year-old Steve was also into technology, so he started a website devoted to the team on members.aol.com. 14-year-old Steve moved the site to Billikens.com, which still hosts the main message board for discussion for Saint Louis University sports and had 2.7 million page views in 2022. Billikens.com is technically owned by “SignGuy’s Sites LLC” for legal reasons, but donations from its users entirely support it.
Fifteen years later, Saint Louis University interviewed and hired 29-year-old Steve for an Assistant Professor position in their Political Science Department. The message board learned about this via a SLU newsletter. Being an Assistant (now Associate) Professor who runs the main “fan” site for their employer has created some interesting experiences. But it is a fun hobby – and I am able to attend every Thanksgiving with my family with ease because I am lucky enough to work at [Local University].