Just in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s been a strange 18 months. The first half of 2020 was grim, of course. I caught Covid before anyone really knew what it was, and by the time I’d recovered, the sporting calendar had disappeared, and with it, all my work. In the second part of the year, things got busier but no less odd. Sport without crowds makes no sense, even if it is on the telly. I was pathetically grateful for the bookings that returned, but the entirely necessary working restrictions made every job a struggle. In common with the rest of the world, I wasn’t enjoying myself.
Into 2021, and the vaccine. I suppose opinion on it will remain divided, although I’m not really sure why. For me, having the jab made a huge difference to how I felt about working, socialising and well, living. The return of “sport with fans” was an important part of that too. The pandemic is far from over of course, but my work suddenly had more meaning. To me, anyway. And going to Crystal Palace v Brentford as a fan was a really emotional experience, even if the game was a bit dull.
I’m aware that the ramblings above aren’t so much “recent news” as “recap”, but as I haven’t updated for a while, it seemed necessary. Also, just writing a summary of the work I’ve done lately seemed a bit pointless.
That said, I did go to Tokyo for the Olympics, and I’ve just started a job as a University lecturer.
I went to the Games to work as a “Segment Reporter” for Olympic Broadcasting Services. That role meant I was scripting and voicing reports on a wide range of sports (Swimming, Canoeing, Dressage, Baseball, Softball!), which really tested my capacity to sound like I knew what I was talking about. The basic video editing required was also a challenge.
I enjoyed the work, but other elements of the trip were tough. We were in “soft quarantine” for the first 14 days of our 4-week visit, which meant we can only travel between the IBC and the hotel. When those restrictions eased and we could venture out, it became apparent that Tokyo’s lockdown was pretty comprehensive and everything closed at 8pm.
Given all those issues, Tokyo 2020 was still quite a spectacle and it’s a remarkable city. Perhaps I’ll go back and actually see it one day.
Here’s a photo of the building that was my home for a month. The IBC was inside a venue called “Big Sight”. It’s quite a structure.
And here’s one video I put together. Well, my lovely editor Viktor Huber did. It’s the “story of Swimming” in 3 minutes.
While I was there, I heard that I’d got a job that I applied for earlier in the summer. I saw an ad for a lecturer in Multimedia Sports Journalism at the University Campus of Football Business, based at Wembley Stadium. As will be obvious, I’m not an academic, but I’ve been interested in teaching for a while and also wanted a new challenge, something different to try. With no great expectation, I applied, and it turned out UCFB were looking for an experienced, working sports journalist rather than a professor with no real connection to the current profession. To my surprise, they decided I fitted that description.
For the last month, I’ve been training – reading, writing practice lectures, and trying to change the way I think about the industry. After 30 years of doing it, I’m now going to have to explain how it’s done. My boss Dave King told me I’d found that tough, and I can already tell that he’s right. Time is getting short too…term begins in 2 weeks time. I’m daunted and excited in equal measure. I’ll let you know how it’s going in my next update.
The job will definitely change the nature of my career, hopefully for the better. I will continue to freelance as a reporter though, just not as much. So any potential employers reading shouldn’t be deterred!