Sports Journalism degree: a reflection, two years in

To study journalism was always going to be a bit of a grind. The profession is so often ad hoc and whimsical that to learn the basic skills over a three-year period based primarily in a classroom seems almost inappropriate. Continue reading


Why I love writing about football

A tentative return to writing as university mentalness begins to die down; here’s why I enjoy writing about football.

For many years now I have enjoyed and admired the writing of established football scribes, such as Paul Hayward, Henry Winter, Sid Lowe and Iain Macintosh. I have had mixed feelings towards a lot of the writing in the modern – mainly mainstream – media, varying from ‘I want to do this, to be able to write as well as this and be as informed as the author’ to ‘I could write better than this; what on earth is he/she going on about?’
I’ve worked for my school newspaper as a sports reporter, sports editor and editor; with the emergence of blogs and Twitter – allowing a different, almost ‘underground’ type of football writing – I’m able to read an awful lot more and gain more knowledge, which only adds to my already-burning passion to write about football.
I love writing about football, mainly because there is so much to cover. Even just one solitary weekend in the English Premier League can throw up stories, or bring an end to a long-running saga. That’s one league in one country – you could go further down the leagues in England or travel across Europe, or even the world, and find so many interesting stories – and it’s the job of a football writer to inform those who will listen of these tales.
Apart from actually playing the game, what could be better than thinking, talking and writing about football day-in, day-out? Yes, it must be stressful with all the deadlines and barriers that journalists face – but it’s the kind of stress that must be exhilarating rather than exhausting.
Whether it’s an opinion piece on whether Steve Kean should be sacked or backed, a news item on Sepp Blatter’s latest blunder or a good old fashioned rant on Robbie Savage – football writing is just darn-right fun.

Those kids were right – the future’s bleak

The future ain’t looking so bright now…
I got my A Level exam results the other day – B in History, C in English Language and D in English Literature, for all those wondering – which means that I can go to the University of Sunderland in September and study Sports Journalism. I’m very happy and, obviously, very lucky to be able to go onto higher education. But I’m worried (and no, not because of the city I’ll be living in…)

I should be excited for university, for my future, for my life. I’m eighteen years old and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me. I’m prepared to work hard, of course, which will hopefully result in me getting what I want from life. No?
Of course not, we all know that’s not true. If you want to succeed in life the likelihood is that you will need to work hard, have a great deal of luck on your side and be given chances left, right and indeed centre (unless you’re born into a rich family who give you your life on a plate or something similar – in which case, I hate you). It’s far too simplistic to say ‘if you work hard in school etc you’ll get the rewards’ – it’s not that easy anymore.
The student fee increases are unlikely to affect me (as far as I’m aware) but that doesn’t mean I’m going to be anything like financially secure over the next few years and probably beyond. Generally, things are getting more and more expensive, the economy is ruined and no one seems to know what to do. The government are tasked with sorting out these problems but I can’t remember the last time I believed something that came out of a politician’s mouth – in fact I don’t think I ever have. It’s not exactly very promising, is it?
Everyday I sit down to watch the news and, without fail, it depresses me every single time. Electricity and gas prices are going up, house prices are on the rise, unemployment rates are obscene. People are dying every day, be it in Iraq or in our own back yard. People are angry, people don’t know what to do – our society is ‘sick’.
Clearly, some perspective needs to be had. Problems all over Africa and other third-world countries have it much, much worse than us and, again, that depresses me – there are people in this country who earn tens millions of pounds a year but, yet, there are people in Somalia who haven’t eaten in days, weeks, months. This kind of issue is nothing new – but nothing is ever done about it.
Going back to the need for perspective – of course, I feel pretty pathetic complaining about not having enough money after going to university, after paying for driving lessons, after going out with mates, etc. I’m very lucky to have these things. But then, as human beings, we concentrate on the issues in front of us. When you’re in a car stuck in traffic, do you resist the temptation to complain because you’re very lucky to have a car, to have such lovely roads? Of course not – you wonder what that bloody tractor in front is doing.
The point is, it’s all a bit depressing at the minute, perspective aside. People are destroying their own communities and, while that is unjustifiable, the anger and dismay on show is – to a certain extent – understandable. These kids – while they are criminals and most will simply be idiots looking for some new trainers – are not happy. They do not see a future for themselves. They’ve watched on as their parents work hard all day, all week and still end up in a council house – working hard, as stated earlier, just isn’t enough.
Those kids destroying London last week were criminals and should be prosecuted accordingly (what ‘accordingly’ means, I’ll leave that up to you) but this problem goes beyond those kids. Prices are going up and those who are fortunate enough to have jobs are seeing their wages stretched further and further.
Punishing the rioters will send out a clear message to other kids and will – possibly – deter them from committing similar crimes. But it doesn’t solve the main issues at hand. It might sound ungrateful, but it’s deeply depressing what is going on in England at the moment. For want of a better phrase – this country’s fucked.
I’m going to university in a couple of months, I should be excited. I’m not – I’m very worried.