When applying to study Sports Journalism last year, I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that within the first week I would have been in a Press Box recording a radio match report on a Yorkshire Derby between Leeds United and Barnsley in front of over 27,000 people at Elland Road.
In the induction week (with the course yet to formally begin), I expected a guided tour of the University campus and a lighthearted welcome, before studying started properly the following week. But, on just the second day, we were told of our first assignment to record a 90 second radio match report at an official press box at a game of our choice with a month’s deadline.
Later that week and much to my surprise, I’d managed to organise myself a place in the Elland Road press box with one fairly short email to the Leeds United press officer. Before I knew it, myself and about half a dozen other students from the course were sat at back of the tiny press room surrounded by writers and broadcasters from Sky Sports, the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Barnsley Chronicle.
As the full-time whistle sounded, I felt fairly confident having made plenty of notes on what had been an tight yet eventful 2-1 victory for Leeds. Then, having recorded my report, I attempted to submit it online only to find that my laptop, unlike any else’s, disconnected from the stadium WiFi. After failed numerous attempts to disconnect and reconnect, I ultimately had to borrow one of the other student’s laptops and with just 5 minutes of the one hour deadline remaining I managed to submit the report.
Despite the post-match stress of submitting my report, I’d thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of a sitting in a press box. The game itself had been an entertaining view, the atmosphere was lively, I’d exchanged notes and thoughts with my mates in the press box and I’d been able to sit in the same place as writers that for years, I’d spent following on Twitter and reading their articles.
Of course, sitting in press boxes and writing and recording match reports is only one aspect to the degree as I’ve learned from lectures on technology, the PR industry and the media, there is most certainly more of an academic basis to the course than I first imagined. Some of the readings thus far, which have been centered around concepts such as “Imagined Communities” and “The Public Sphere”, have extremely challenged my academic abilities and I have questioned their relevance and applicability. But, as I’ve been told my lecturers, continuing to read difficult academic texts and journals will only make us better our chances of earning what is ultimately an academic qualification.