It was an initiative that was started in the boxing ring during the 1924 Paris Olympics. 96 years on, World Sports Journalists Day is a matter of pride for people who are working in this field of journalism.
Politics, Entertainment, Business and lifestyle genres have their own pros and cons.
However, sports is a different beast altogether. This field is like a typical Bollywood potboiler.
There is drama, tension, tragedy, emotion, comedy, excitement, passion, and many other facets of human emotion while covering the field.
Where else can one add on his Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin handles that he/she gets ‘Paid to watch and write on sports’.
A sports writer is held in high esteem as this is one field that has the potential to be a vehicle for world peace.
In an abnormal society, it is sports that give people reason to cheer, something to look forward to, a sense of pride, and a sense of feeling superior.
However, the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has stalled sporting activities all over the world. Even in this, sports journalists have adapted.
Taking interviews via video calls, putting in human interest stories, and adding different features of how sporting individuals are adapting in a shutdown have dominated print and TV headlines.
In this article, I aim to provide a different perspective to sports journalism.
Having spent 12 years in this field, I aim to provide an inside-information of the struggles one has to go through in order to get recognized in the shark-filled tank of sports journalism.
Struggles of Digital Journalism
In India, even today, we acknowledge that there are just two major entities of media. There is print, which includes newspapers and magazines and there are television channels.
Print coverage is held in the highest esteem while TV grabs eyeballs. What about the middle medium called Digital? That is a different beast altogether. A disclaimer: My experience need not be everyone’s experience. It is some of my experiences that I am putting it out.
When I started out in the digital journalism field, did one know that one cannot cover cricket matches in India from the press box? What was the reason? This will blow your mind away.
The Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) does NOT recognize digital media as a media entity.
It was only after sustained pressure from digital sites like ESPNCricinfo and Cricbuzz that other sporting websites could get entry into a press box to cover games.
Before this, digital journalists would have to sit in the stands and file a report with dodgy internet connections.
Needing solid editors
I have had the privilege of working with people who encourage people to go out and report.
This is the main aim for sporting journalists – Go outside and cover events or matches.
It needs great editors, with backing of the management to give encouragement to journalists.
However, in the last couple of years, the impetus to send people out has vanished.
People who are in print are lucky to get a chance to go out. Those in the digital department do not get the privilege, apart from a one-off.
If one is in a TV organization, then digital’s plight is even worse.
TV reporters get the first preference at anything. If a digital journalist tries to venture out on his/her own, then television journalists do not take it well.
The ego quotient in TV journalists stem the growth of digital journalists in an organisation that has both.
Managements have held money back, devoting their finances entirely to print or TV while leaving Digital to fend for itself.
What next for Sports Journalists?
In the post-coronavirus world, things will change a lot more in sports journalism.
Travel restrictions might deter a lot of organisations from sending people out for events.
With activities in India set to remain stalled for some more time, sports journalists face a big challenge in stories.
Sports journalists might need to come out of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook stories and do something new.
The coronavirus might give a level playing field for people who have been left behind, but volatile editors and management might fight equally hard to ensure the status quo remains.
Despite these odds, I am proud to say that I have slogged 12 years in this field. Currently, it is a tough time. However, like sports, we can bounce back and we shall.