I don’t envy sports journalists. Even though I’m a giant sports nut the thought of interviewing athletes every single day (most of whom are not interested in talking to you) is very painful. The one plus to covering sports however is attending the odd game for free! ( I do have a ridiculous NFL story to share on that front another time)
This blog is about European Football. One of the companies I worked for broadcast a ton of European football and when Manchester United played an exhibition match against Glasgow Celtic in Toronto I had to jump at the chance to see the big clubs up close.
For those of you used to seeing sports coverage in North America with pre-game interviews, post-game press conferences and locker room access the Premiership is definitely not that. The night before the big match in Toronto, Manchester United holds a press conference and invites the club’s Manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, and a player (who doesn’t speak English). The press conference is short and Sir Alex and the player don’t say anything so I figure I’d better come back tomorrow and try my luck at post-game.
So the next night comes and I’m standing in the bowels of the Rogers Centre with my camera and microphone blocked from the players by a large metal gate. At the end of the wall was the team bus. The team press secretary (who looked remarkably similar to Mick Jagger) was not going to allow his players to speak with the press.
As my frustration grew, I recognized a crew from SKY sports in the UK (they had been at the previous night’s presser). I asked them “how do you ever get a story?” The crew explained you have to work months in advance to get an exclusive. By this point I felt a little dejected and noticed all the players had departed. The Sky reporter points out one person remained way off on the other side of the barrier and it’s Sir Alex Ferguson. I yelled out “Hey Alex, how about 2 minutes to speak with Canada???” Sir Alex saunters over, crosses his arms and says “Ok here I am, you got two minutes what do you want to ask me?” I blurt out a couple lame questions and then he walks away. I turn to the SKY team and see their mouths have hit the floor. The UK crew said “if they did that they would be banned from any premiership access for months.” And so I left with what appeared to be the only interview Sir Alex would have done that night.