Football broadcasting,football journalism,football broadcasters,football journalists.
I've wanted to write a blog on the ever changing face of football broadcasting and journalism for a while,so here goes.
I love radio,television and written football journalism which i took an interest in as i watched,listened and read some of the the best growing up.
Hugh Johns,Jimmy Hill,Hugh Mcilvaney,Jimmy Armfield,James LawtonBrian Clough,Brian Moore,Motty,Jonathan Pearce in his Capital days all gave me insight,perspective,passion as broadcasters,and helped shape my interest in broadcasting.
Today,we still have great written,radio and tv football broadcasters.
Henry Winter,Olly Holt,Gary Neville,Graeme Souness,Jonathan Pearce,Mark Saggers,Danny Kelly who i work with at talkSPORT and many others give me the same insight,passion and intellect which drives me in my broadcasting today.The list in British broadcasting and print is a very good,and very long one.
However,there seems to be an increasing number of broadcasting and journalist " football snobs" .
Ive noticed a massive increase of these snobs,whose major selling point is usually a degree of some sort,and an opinion which barely disguises an inbuilt hatred of former professional footballers who have turned to broadcasting .
Why? Well for me its simple.A degree in journalism gives them the belief that their hard University work and study should somehow put them automatically in the front of the line for a plum job in whichever industry they choose.And in football,the number who think this way is increasing.
"Just because you've played the game,why should you head the queue to broadcast" is the usual line i read. Well,I've been interested in broadcasting since childhood(did plenty of radio when out of action),i made a choice to play within the football industry for 15 years,forming an insight into playing,management,coaching strategy,contracts etc,so if i'm capable,work hard,and am willing to learn/improve,why shouldn't i or any other ex professional football player? I've also now broadcast for 10 years as my career.
If i were a banker(thats banker...)),and had worked in that industry,no one would bat an eyelid if i then popped up on BBC Breakfast to talk about that industry.Likewise any other but the football snob uses their intellect and snobbery to almost suggest the opposite.Namely if you've played the game professionally,you are automatically an idiot who simply by fortune of having ability now lazily makes money,keeping the bright young Uni educated football scholar from the mic or screen.
Frankly this is rubbish.
Take Gary Neville on MNF.Could the guy who's never set foot on a pitch but writes about the game honestly give the kind of insight into on pitch matters as Neville? Of course not, and on the medium of radio,without pictures,i believe i do the same,and do it well but for some reason get an increasing amount,an inordinate amount of scorn poured on my work,simply for having played the game.
Are there lazy,cliched ex pros on tv and radio? Yes.Should their jobs be taken by journalists who work hard,add insight and knowledge? Yes,and i believe the tide is changing.
But i'm afraid just because you write a blog,went to Uni,support a team,are passionate about the game,it doesn't automatically qualify anyone to write or broadcast for a living.There's another factor.You have to be good to have longevity.Really good.
Ex players who broadcast now must prepare as well as their trained journalist colleagues,as we all know that an ex pro not knowing chapter and verse on systems,players,coaching methods,and styles will simply get the punters screaming for change.
I believe i was the first ex pro(and believe me,one of the first in press rooms full stop),to set out prep on a laptop,to implement statistics,game analysis(dvd) into punditry in the UK,and try to tally that with asking questions,setting agenda,creating debate like journalists and broadcasters do.Something i'm proud of,and is par for the course for every ex pro i see at games now.
The old school pundit did use their status simply to rock up to a studio and "style it" but that simply isn't the case anymore,so ex players,as in American sports now give the insight of the dressing room,the preserve of a few,whilst being able to think like a journalist/broadcaster,and crucially,give information clearly like those two professions.
Most Journalists and broadcasters accept this but still there remains almost a bitter clique of burgeoning journalists and bloggers who still feel ex players are thick,uneducated and dole out cliches,compared to their swashbuckling,creative,edgy writing.I'm afraid the old saying stands to them,as in most industries,if you're good enough,you'll make it.
I had a radio broadcaster last night send me the following tweet.""Tweet me your email address,and i'll send you my show reel,you might learn something".For me the height of football journalistic snobbery.Granted,he broadcasts for internet tv stations,small foreign radio and tv stations,and has a foothold with one or two larger UK broadcasters,but i feel his snobbery(he's one of 100's on twitter) will see him burn more bridges than he will ever build.
Many of these snobs sneer at mainstream broadcasting,as "shit',so write on some of football's more exotic tournaments,create niche output,which,like AA Gill's restaurant reviews,can turn a simple trip to an eatery,into the most wonderful,complex experience known to man.
This is where the football snob unfortunately will always trip up.The game in the UK still has its feet firmly planted in the working class community.And although many of that community can no longer afford to watch top flight football,they are still the section of the community that prop the UK game up at every level.
This means that although creative writing and broadcasting from all quarters is always welcome,especially if its good,football snobbery on social media is almost a self serving cottage industry who's clique is way louder in cyberspace than it every will be on the terrace or in the street.In other words,there are only so many squiggles on a website,only so many kafka-esque match reports that will be read by the mainstream,and however many Burkina Faso v Equatorial Guinea games one goes to,most football fans in the UK want straight,well prepared,honest,and snobbery free comments in print and on air.
So to the football snobs,their blogs,their degrees,and entitlement complex over good broadcasters,whatever their background,good luck,keep sneering and try to be more Brian Moore or Motty than nouveau smart arse.