Impact speaks to writer Dharmesh Sheth about media and the sporting life.
Why did you choose to work in sports media?
Watch[ing] football for a living – need I say any more?
Is working in sports media as great as everyone thinks it is? Why?
Yes and no. It has its moments. You get to meet some fantastic sporting personalities. But – like any job – it can often be frustrating. Trying to get the line you want out of a player can be difficult at times because they are highly trained both on and off the pitch and know what the ‘right’ thing to say is.
What is the best match, or sporting occasion, that you have reported on?
I’d have to say last season’s Cup Final between Arsenal and Manchester United. I was stationed outside the Arsenal team hotel on the Friday and did live reporting ahead of the game. Then it was off to the Stadium and then straight to the airport to get a shot of the Cup on Arsenal’s team coach. Amazing couple of days (apart from the result).
With hindsight, what, in your opinion, is the best approach to take to break into the profession?
There is no right or wrong way to get in. With hindsight I wouldn’t change the way I got into it. I actually did an Economics degree and an MSc in Media and Communications – both to fall back on if journalism didn’t work out. It’s what I did outside my studies that helped – writing for newspapers and magazines to build up a portfolio. But there are plenty of people who have done media courses at degree level or before and have got in that way. So I don’t think there is a best approach – showing enthusiasm, getting work experience and really wanting to get into the profession is a good start though!
How did you break into the profession?
After studying I freelanced for newspapers and magazines and got about forty pieces in print. That helped me get my first job as an editorial assistant at ITV Sport. I moved to Sky Sports News seven years ago. The first three years as an assistant producer and for the past four years I have been a reporter.
Who has a better right foot – Beckham or Wilkinson?
I would have to say Beckham. Wilkinson is predominantly left-footed! (Was that a trick question?)
What’s the funniest story involving yourself and a sportsperson?
That would have to be the day I reported on a pancake race at Peterborough United! (Yes, you read that right). Barry Fry (who was then manager) is a crazy guy – and we went to town with it. Cut a long story short – involved him having a pancake on his head chasing me all over the training ground – Benny Hill style. Possibly one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments.
Is Murray going to be better than Henman, and actually win Wimbledon?
Personally, I think Murray will be better than Henman…BUT I don’t think he will win the title. Murray, and every other player, is unlucky that they are around at the same time as a certain Roger Federer – he is TOO GOOD!
What is it like working with the top sporting characters, and who is the most interesting?
It’s great! It was my dream job and I haven’t fallen out of love with it! I guess I was in awe when I started but now I get on with it! Most interesting? Difficult…Probably Jose Mourinho – when he talks people listen. And he says exactly what he thinks – and that’s great for us!
England are rugby world champions and our cricket team won the Ashes, but our football team loses to Northern Ireland; why do you think football nevertheless remains the country’s most popular sport?
Well as I write this, it’s two days after England beat Argentina – does that answer your question?
Are England going to win the World Cup this summer? Why?
I fear not. I think we have a good chance of getting to the quarters – maybe semis. At that stage, the best teams are the only ones left and I think there are more technically gifted teams than England around. My predictable prediction – BRAZIL!
Interview by Zac Newman