And you thought life as a sports journo was easy

One of the more helpful types you encounter along the road in this job is Mr Why Don’t You Talk To.
And you thought life as a sports journo was easy

Mr WDYTT always has an interview target for you, someone who’s surely worth speaking to if only you’d bother.

“It’s always the big stars, isn’t it?” is the usual kick-off. “The names, the headline acts. Sure they’re all played out. Sick of listening to them peddle the same line all the time, when they’re not pushing some product or other. Go off-Broadway, that’s what I say. Off-off-Broadway if you can.”

As Mr WDYTT can branch into other fields, such as I’ll Tell You Why The Water Charges Were Brought In, or People Agree With George Hook But Won’t Say It Do You Hear Me Now, and will so branch given no encouragement, I thought I’d encourage him to drift out of interview consultation by sharing some of my experiences of drifting off-Broadway here.

Every sportswriter has his horror stories about interviews, though usually the names are changed to protect all concerned, like the time I rang a sportsperson to talk about his autobiography, a call arranged by the publishers’ PR agency.

Granted, this chap wasn’t engaged in a sport I knew well, but even allowing for that minor obstacle . . . after about three minutes I said, “Ah, I think we’ll leave it, will we?”.

And he said, “Grand, sure,” which was double the number of syllables he’d used per response up to then.

However, I had an even better experience this week, by which I mean an all-time low.

Last week yours truly emailed the website of an obscure provider of services to sportspeople inquiring about a chat. Off-Broadway! Yes!

A few days later I got an email in reply, asking for an idea of what I wanted to talk about in advance. Fair enough, might expedite matters, etc. Before I responded, though, I spotted that there was an attachment to the email which I was required to consult.

This attachment contained an official-appearing document, one which required my signature before the interview. Cue a little surprise.

The document required me to disclose all purpose for publication and not to withhold information on usage including financial gain resulting from the interview, which surprised me.

My surprise was soon overtaken by a kind of shock when the document went on to tell me that I was not, in the piece, to present other products in an arrangement that could be interpreted as being associated with or endorsed by the provider of services being interviewed. My state of mild shock was deepened more than somewhat when the document stated that I was to agree to be accurate and not misrepresent the interviewee. However, I maintained consciousness just long enough to reach the conclusion of the document, which warned me that any repercussions as a proven result of the feature, such as loss of business and decrease in sales, would be dealt with and involve legal proceedings.

Clearly when you get an email like this your best bet is to leave your seat, go out and contemplate the sky, maybe have a soothing coffee . . . anything but replying in the first emotional few minutes after scrolling to the end of the message.

Suffice to say the pre-interview exchange came to an abrupt end. Am sticking to the stars along Broadway for the foreseeable future.

Patriots star Brady no fan of Thursday night lights

I see that Tom Brady is complaining once again in America.

Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback and a long-time foe of this column, was moaning about something or other (playing on a Thursday. I just checked) but that wasn’t what caught my eye in reports from the US.

(Nor was his coach’s comment on field renovations at the Patriots’ stadium. “I would say the field is being replaced because it needs to be replaced,” said monotone-emitter Bill Belichick. “And it’s probably something you should talk to the field experts on.”)

No, the key is that the Boston Bruins are back in training.

Which means a chance to ogle ice hockey gear: Seriously, is this stuff the best sportswear on the planet?

I think so.

Blue sky thinking in the capital

I know the Super 8s Gaelic football revamp is on people’s minds a good deal, with some proposing a hurling equivalent or a mix and match of various competition structures.

It came up when yours truly was in the capital last weekend for the camogie final, certainly. I met up with a pal who’s deeply involved in the Dublin GAA scene at club level, and he wasn’t long in raising his eyebrows about the prospect of the Super 8.

Not at inter-county level, though. “I look around Dublin now and I wonder sometimes if the bigger clubs are considering breaking away,” he told me. “People talking about making two teams out of Dublin, to me that misses the point. The point being the potential audience in Dublin for high-quality Gaelic football when the Dubs aren’t playing.”

It was plausible. Clubs like St Vincent’s, Ballyboden St Enda’s, Kilmacud Crokes, Ballymun Kickhams, Castleknock, St Brigid’s, St Oliver Plunker’s Eoghan Ruadh, UCD and Cuala are all powerful entities. If they were minded to do so, could they be stopped from setting up a round-robin tournament that would be a de facto Dublin county championship? If a broadcaster were interested in driving viewing figures in the biggest market in the country, could it resist this as a bauble?

It’d be interesting from all sorts of angles, not least the views of other counties. The rap against Dublin from those other counties is that they’re a law unto themselves in terms of resources, population and economics. Would they help quash such a move or see a chance to destabilise the sky-blue empire?

Geansaí, hurley, and Berlin grassroots

Keep an eye out tomorrow evening for The Geansaí, a documentary series running on RTÉ One television — last week there were some very interesting revelations by recently retired players such as Conor Mortimer and Michael Rice, and Slaughtneil GAA club featured previously.

I understand this week’s episode will focus on the hurley, and the one after that will outline what the GAA is doing in Berlin. As suggested (tongue-in-cheek, but still) in another part of this column, plenty of good stories to be found off-Broadway.

The Geansaí, RTÉ One, Tuesday at 7pm.

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