A Sports Journalist’s Lifestyle and Protocols

by Justin Fauteux, Canadian ‘Young Reporter’ at the FISU Games

Canadian 'Young Reporter' Erin Meagher, Sports Media Canada President Steve McAllister, Canadian 'Young Reporters' Justin Fauteux and Kelsey Wingerak

SHENZEN — Something that’s stood out for me among the many, many lessons I’ve learned on this trip is the profound effect being a sports journalist has on your lifestyle. From the way you lead your life to the way you look at sports, being in sports media basically changes the way you interact with the world.

Obviously I’ve known for a long time that it’s not a 9-5 job. But I don’t think I ever really appreciated that until this week. We’re up early everyday to start our lectures. In the afternoon and evening we cover events and we file stories late at night.

All in all, we young journalists are putting in at least 14-hour days here in Shenzhen.

And to be honest, I’ve loved it.

Being a university student and being responsible for producing a weekly newspaper, I’ve known I can function on little to no sleep for quite some time. However, here, I’ve learned I can do it for numerous days in a row. I’m not going to say it hasn’t been challenging, but I’ve done it – so far.

One of the most strikingly simple, yet poignant things Sports Media Canada president Steve McAllister said in the many chats we had while he was here in China as a mentor was that the days of filing your story, then going to the bar until 3 a.m. and waking up at noon are over. I’ve been hit over the head with the whole ‘it’s a 24-hour news cycle now’ fact since I expressed even the slightest interest in journalism, but again this experience in Shenzhen has made it real.

On top of operating on a lack of sleep, a good sports journalist must cut all ties with even the teams he or she has loved since early childhood. Again, this is a fact I’ve known for quite some time that was illustrated during this seminar.

A few days ago, the group got into a lengthy discussion over the issue of cheering in the press box – a ‘no no’ among professional sports journalists. A simple fact of life, if not a ‘commandment’ in North America, but some of the journalists here from Europe or Latin America had trouble grasping it.

I can remember hearing Elliot Friedman speak about not cheering when Sidney Crosby scored the gold medal-winning goal in Vancouver, and as much as I’ve been able to distance myself from personal allegiances to certain teams, that’s a response I still cannot grasp.

Not cheering for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (my university) is one thing, but keeping yourself contained at a moment of national pride like that, wow.