My job entails a lot of researching, interviewing, writing and coming up with ideas. I've covered everything from the most grassroots events to sports' biggest stages, from high school basketball games in Indiana, baseball in Mexico and bobsled to the Super Bowl.
I went to the University of Western Ontario, where I studied media, information and technoculture. On my resumé, I put "media studies." When I started at Western, I had no idea what I wanted to do, and it was through writing for the school newspaper that I figured out what I was good at.
I was a pretty bad student. I didn't show up to too many classes. I didn't do that much reading. I didn't study for exams. I wrote all my essays the night before.
Instead, I used the opportunity to work for the school paper and get that real-world experience. We published four times a week, so I'd come into the office in the morning, get the story, report and write for a 10 o'clock deadline. I learned more from those experiences than I did from class.
Going through the red tape to get interviews, especially in sports, can be tough. A lot of athletes are very closed and guarded, so it's tough to get access. The only people who might be more difficult than sports PR people are university PR people, so school definitely gave me experience in dealing with that.
At Sportsnet I write long-form features, but a lot of sports writers just report on games, and then there are bloggers that dive into numbers and statistics - like [New York Times writer] Nate Silver, who started writing about baseball and recently predicted the U.S. elections accurately. In sports there are a lot of avenues, so a lot of different people can find success.
There are not that many jobs in Canada where you can do this type of sports journalism. Sportsnet Magazine might be the only place where a young writer can get the opportunity to do long-form stuff that's going to be seen by 100,000 people a week. Newspapers usually assign longer features to more veteran writers. So you gotta be good, you gotta work your ass off and you really have to want it. If you're not committed 100 per cent, you're not going to get there.
A lot of people I met in school still email me, wanting to be sports feature writers because it's more interesting than writing about 162 baseball games a year. You have to have some luck - you have to be in the right place at the right time. I was looking for a job when Rogers started a national sports magazine. If somebody gives you a break, you really have to knock it out of the park and show that it's something you can do well.