What you don’t learn before you become a sports journalist

All of a sudden you’re no longer sat in the stands with a multi-coloured team scarf wrapped around you, but in a press box surrounded by the sounds of fingers tapping on various keyboards. I very quickly had to adapt from an excited rugby fan to a professional journalist however, I do miss just watching a game of rugby. 

At the start of my second year at university I posted a tweet saying that I could no longer watch a game as a fan and how I was constantly thinking about what I would write or say if I was covering the game or how the game will influence my upcoming journalistic week. My lecturer replied saying, “haha, that’s made my day! Welcome to my world”. I smiled and laughed off his response but as I only have one academic year between me and holding a sports journalism degree I completely understand what he meant. 

Being a sports journalist is something truly amazing, working with sports, writing or presenting about it and being engulfed by the sporting world 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But sitting back on the sofa with a cup of tea in slippers watching rugby is something I took for granted. 

I am just starting out on my journey in a world I still know very little about and last year one of the best journalists in the sporting industry, Henry Winter came and spoke to us about his outstanding career and what to expect. One thing that stood out from his talk was when he jokingly but in full seriousness informed us all to pack a sleeping bag in the back of your car for the journeys that require you to be in opposite ends of the country over a 24-hour timeframe. 

It made me stop and think that I am no longer a fan of sport, I am an employee of sport. 

There is nothing I love more than going to a ground on Friday night, turning up nearly two hours before kick-off ensuring that my preparation is perfect, watching the match and then staying over an hour after the final whistle to gather interviews and ensure that my match repot and other articles are perfect. The adrenaline buzz that surrounds you is astonishing, pushing yourself to get your report finished by the time the final whistle goes and thinking on your feet to quiz directors of rugby afterwards and then thinking about how tonight’s result is going to impact your content in the coming week.

I am sure I will look back on this article in a year’s time and think how I could have written it differently, just like I am doing now with some of my older blog posts. Nevertheless, if studying sports journalism at university for the last two years has taught me anything, it is that we are allowed to make mistakes and everyone is still learning. The amount of times I have recorded introductions to TV packages over and over again or memorised a team sheet until I know every letter on the piece of paper in fear of mispronouncing a name is uncountable. 

The sports journalism and journalism industry has changed drastically over the last decade with the impact of multimedia journalism and today it is one of the most faced paced industries in the world. It is such an exciting prospect to be stepping into an industry that is moving with the technology, however, now more than ever, everything is under scrutiny and for someone starting out in the field of journalism that is something both extremely daunting and exhilarating. 

I do miss going to Twickenham or my local club as a fan and just being able to watch a game of rugby without thinking of what happens next. However, the passion that I have for becoming a professional rugby journalist pushes those fan thoughts to one side to focus on something that has the possibility to take me places I never dreamed of. 

Nevertheless, if you ask me what advice I have to anyone about to go to university to read sports journalism I would say one thing:

Enjoy a game of sport as a fan one last time, because as soon as you learn about on the whistle match reports and solo match commentary sport will never be the same again. It will be even better than you thought it could ever be. 


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