With football season fast approaching it’s conclusion, it’s given me the chance to look back on the past few months and reflect upon the things I’ve learned during my brief time as a “sports writer”. Some of you may recall that I took up an advertised position within my current employment for writers with a strong sporting knowledge to provide game and event previews as a referencing guide for colleagues, or in my case, a vague sporting knowledge with an eye for statistics and the desired capabilities to navigate Google.
It’s been a real experience as a whole, much like a drive-by shooting or a shopping trip to Asda on a Saturday afternoon. Of course, with every opportunity I can honestly say I’m glad(?) to have taken part. It’s difficult to pin down exactly what my expectations were when I got accepted into the team. A little professionalism, some constructive criticism, perhaps the occasional pat on the back for a job well done. Then I remembered who it is that I work for.
The only real piece of advice we received that can ultimately relate to any kind of literature, was to always consider our target audience, in this instance, my esteemed friends and colleagues. On the surface this seemed like a fundamental concept, one that appeared to be fairly straight forward until I took some time to fully consider the job role. The minimum requirement of a C grade in Maths and English only applies to the relative who completed your online application, while the position is yours if you can navigate the 30 minute interview without dribbling. To strike the proper tone with my readers required me to read a lot of Dr Seuss.
This was the first time I’d had to surrender full creative control since I began writing in the public domain, and while direction was limited, I discovered that something as simple as focusing on the target audience can be all the direction you need.
American football is a fast growing sport in the UK and has been for a number of years, yet there is still an enormous percentage of people who have never witnessed a single snap, let alone understand the game’s own unique language. I had to put myself in so many people’s shoes and try and develop a way of making these articles accessible for all levels, from the beginners, to the avid followers of the sport. It never occurred to me that the same thing applied here. I’ve never considered who reads this blog or why, and for all I know, jumping into one of these posts could feel like opening to the middle of a book.
It’s been a gradual learning curve, one where I have come to appreciate the input of others. I often look at my work and think of myself as it’s biggest critic, but that is far from the case. Truth be told, I’ve never looked at it from the point of view of the reader. I take for granted that others are on the same wavelength and can read between the lines. This goes a long way to explaining my daughters’ dumbfounded expression when I tried explaining the “offside rule” inside the adventure playground’s ball pit.
Now that the Superbowl is just a week away, my time as a sports writer is nearing it’s end. It’s been time consuming, frustrating, and often unappreciated. A bittersweet experience that I’m unlikely to repeat in quite the same way. However, despite the negatives, I’m able to take away a valuable life lesson above all others; If you’re good at something, never do it for free. The Joker was right all along.