Sunday, 25 October 2009

My One-Day Career as a Sports Journo

Well, if you'd spoken to me in the month before or after the game, no doubt I would have mentioned this. If not, I'll happily mention it again: I got to watch London's 2009 NFL match at Wembley. From the press box, on assignment for londonist (Yep, that's me grinning like a moron in an empty Wembley after the game).

With the usual sports writer Duncan in Australia, and me the only person who had a clue about American football, I foolishly put my hand up to cover the match, expecting nothing to come of it. Little did I realise Duncan could actually arrange a press pass, and once it was all sorted I started to properly panic. Thankfully Duncan was able to coach me via email in the arcane ways of the sports journo (basic rule: don't look like you're enjoying yourself).

London definitely gets in to their now annual NFL match, and the NFL happily fuel the fervour, with cheerleader visits (I particularly like this shot, with the girl second from right frowning like she just saw a puppy put down; witnessing a non-smiling cheerleader is rarer than detecting a Higgs Boson). There are even pre-game events for the fans of the visiting teams (yep, more gratuitous cheerleader shots!) All of which seemed a bit of a waste for this match, with the Patriots heavily favoured to out-gun the struggling Buccaneers... which they duly did. I watched on from the box, amazed by the media machine that is the NFL (play-by-play printouts were delivered to each of us promptly after each quarter), and mildly disgusted by the English chap from some regional paper in the seat next to me who spent the entire match ignoring the game and staring through his binoculars at, you guessed it, the cheerleaders. Hmmm, perhaps the NFL should save themselves the expense and the fixtures headache and just send the cheerleaders across the pond each year...

After the match I managed to show my novice status by getting lost in the bowels of Wembley, but eventually got to the Patriots post-match conference (my impressions: Belichik is a mumbler; Brady exudes so much charm you just want to punch him in the face), then filed my match report from the media centre. Apparently it went to the top spot in google news results for NE Patriots the following day. Which was bizarre. All in all, a fantastically fun experience which had me buzzing for days afterwards... but as others pointed out to me, as much as I loved doing it, if I actually had to do it every day for a living the magic would probably wear off quickly. Pity really, I thought I might have found a new career...

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