Interviewing the biggest names in sports worldwide: from Wimbledon winner Manuel Santana to tennis legend Rafael Nadal. Fernando Murciego, former student of Journalism at University CEU Cardenal Herrera and journalist at Eurosport, writes about his experience as a sports journalist:
Sports journalism, how cool! You have surely heard this sentence thousands of times. How many of you have imagined yourselves covering an international event? Or interviewing that TV host you have always admired since childhood? Or commenting live that final match that you would not have missed for anything in the world? Yes, I was also like you. I was also the one that muted the TV on every FIFA match so I could do the comments, the same one who saw how a hobby little by little became a real passion. The one who accepted that doing sport was not his thing so, given my limited ability to play it, it would be better to tell it. Some years have passed from the moment I discovered this passion until it became a reality, even if sometimes it seems like a lifetime, with its moments of glory and doubt. Which is the secret, then? Work, perseverance and luck.
The good thing about this profession is that, from the very beginning, it does not hide anything from you. We are talking about a purely vocational path which one undertakes knowing that he will have to give 100%. No matter the price to pay, nor what it takes to get the reward, you simply start to walk because it is just the most beautiful part of this adventure, regardless of the final result. In this profession you will not see people who are indifferent (if there are any, they will not last long). It is not our style. And what style is ours? Very easy, it is a lifestyle: always paying attention to current issues, looking for the most truthful information, having that need to corroborate every word you write, to give up on resting because you need time for some extra documentation… in short, to let journalism own you 24/7, no matter where or with whom you are. This is sports journalism, I know it sounds something like slavery, and sometimes it feels like it, but I insist: you will not find a greater feeling of accomplishment at the end of your day. If you don’t find it worthwhile, you’d better change your career.
But on this adventure, not everything is beautiful. In my case, I will always remember the words of Elías Durán on the first day of class, almost a decade ago: “Do you like journalism? Do you want to work in this profession? Is it your dream? They are going to make it very difficult for you and those who are not willing to work hard should give it a second thought”. First minute of match and first coup de grâce, although I will not deny that I was caught by his honest words. Some hard words that hit some of us but motivated us at the same time. Even so, Elías did not lie, he simply anticipated the game. He only served as a filter to recruit those of us who really had that dream between the eyebrows.
It’s been almost five years since I finished studying and during these years I’ve seen everything. People with their own light that have triumphed, others less brilliant who have found their place thanks to their dedication, exquisite companions who had no luck, who were not given the opportunity or who gave up due to their lack of patience. Unfortunately, this last case is the one that I have seen the most, which reminds me of one of my favorite slogans: Perseverance is the secret of all triumphs. In my case I got it, although we could say that my story is somehow exceptional.
As I finished my degree I went to Madrid to study a Master’s Degree in Sports Journalism and before finishing it I was already writing in a media about tennis, one of my greatest passions. It was not a consistent job, just a collaboration for which I did not even get payed, but I put all my enthusiasm on it. I was young, I had my whole life ahead of me to learn and to improve those conditions, but already at that moment I wanted to be the best. Could I do anything else? So I kept going like that for half a year, growing and building a name, until one day one of the best websites specializing in tennis wanted me to WORK with them. And I put it in capital letters because yes, this time there was a salary. Two months later, when I was still rubbing my eyes (I was being paid to attend tennis matches and to tell about them!), my phone rang again, but this time the speaker was a real BIG name in communication. Nothing less than Eurosport, a private television network, was looking for commentators for the next Roland Garros tournament. It was 2015 and three years later I’m still there, wondering why me! A miracle that, just in case, I try to keep alive with tenacity, enthusiasm and hard work. There is no time to relax: if you stop, you are done. Especially in these days where new technologies offer all the possibilities. Is anyone here not a user of any social network? What are you waiting for?
In short, ‘you’re so lucky‘, you might think. A lot, but luck started already in 2009, when I decided to study at University CEU Cardenal Herrera. Although that was a step that I was very determined to take at the time. How accurate it is that sentence, so repeated and at the same time so undervalued, saying: “Now you just want to finish the degree, but in a few years you will miss it“. I could not agree more. It is clear that finding a job and starting to make a living on your own makes you feel on an incomparable level of accomplishment, let’s say that it is the goal of an entire university degree. However, it is impossible not to think about all the experiences, emotions, debates, laughter, contacts and even tears that I left behind in this Faculty. They were the ones who taught me and started me in this profession, to whom I will always be grateful and with whom I invite you to work to the fullest. Each class, each talk, each teacher, each hour in those classrooms is a gift for which many students would pay. An exceptional learning and training experience of which I presume wherever I go. Take advantage of it, really, because those moments will never come back.
My experience after university gathered all the factors that I am telling you here today. However, what happened to me is not the normal case, my case is that of a guy one who worked, persevered and was lucky: the first two factors can be somehow controlled, the last one not really. My advice: do not stop. Never give up on your dream, the only one who loses the match is the one who stops trying. No matter if you find out later or earlier, if what you really want is journalism, in the end journalism will end up accepting you. And of course, never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. Three years ago, many believed that Rafael Nadal would never be the world’s number one, that he would no longer win Grand Slams, that he was finished. They did not know that Rafa never trained for these goals, but because he loves this sport and enjoys playing tennis. By pure vocation, that inner voice that says ‘It’s all or nothing‘. What about you, what will you do? Will you leave the match halfway or will you fight until the end? If you have taken less than a second to respond, welcome to this profession.