This is a course on how to create content on sport.
I never finished high school or any higher learning. I'd never worked for a newspaper or been a journalist at all outside of some short documentary films no one watched. I had no contacts within the sport I was writing about. By that I mean, I didn't know any players, coaches or writers. I just started by writing. Over 99% of the first three million words I wrote on cricket went unpaid. Eventually I wrote my way into a weird job – global writer – at one of the world's biggest sports websites, ESPNcricinfo.
I wrote like no one else because I didn't know how you were supposed to write about sports. I wrote about things that I cared about because I didn't understand news cycles. And I wrote with a piece of me in each article, because no one was around to tell me not to. This all means that I have built a career on writing about sport that isn't like the jobs of others.
This course is me reverse-engineering my writing, podcasting and videos.
The course is part theory and part practical. There are over three hours of lectures, but there are also many checklists and tips to show you how to think, plan, and write, and also a practical component where you have to mesh my teachings with who you are.
I have tried to make it as practical as possible so that if you find yourself in a press box the next day or writing a feature from your living room, you could take what you're learning and apply it. Or if you and your neighbour start a podcast, you will know what options are best.
This is not a course on how to get into the industry; most of those are a bit scammy and I don't want you to think you can take my course and suddenly become the Times chief sports writer. This course is aimed at taking who you are as a fan, and showing you how to use it to become a sports writer.
The areas covered:
Who you are as a writer
How to think about athletes and teams
What kind of articles you can write
How to find sport stories
The tools of modern sports writing
A guide to interviewing
A start to finish guide on long-form writing
Data and writing
Giant Lizard Theory
It doesn't matter to me if you went to Oxbridge, now work at the Guardian covering Premier League, or are an uneducated 57-year-old plumber who has always wanted to write her thoughts on trends in Handball. This course is for anyone who wants to use their passion on sports.
While I am mostly a cricket creator (though I've covered other sports as well), the things I have learnt can be used in any sport, and in truth, probably outside sports too.
I've won three Sports Journalism Awards, helped present a Guardian masterclass, written for huge and tiny publications in print and online, hosted my own radio shows, made an award-winning film and I love trying new mediums and ways of presenting my work.
With the birth of the internet and cable TV, sports writing has never been better. I want each one of you to make something as good as possible. It doesn't matter if you don't all become Pablo Torre or Martine Hyde. But I want to give you the tools to be the best you can be. Even if you only make one project, let's try make it your best.
So far a few people who’ve completed the course have gone on to have careers, but I am just as proud of the amateurs who created their best work.
And at the beginning I know how hard it is. I was in the same kind of cold dark room banging away on my computer, stuck in the internet's outer rims, hoping what I put there would be good. That panic, and so many more, are what I had to fight to be the best creator I can be. And I have made so many mistakes that I hope you never need too.
Let's pair the passion you have for sport with my mistakes and make something wonderful from them.