The misery of being a Pakistani sports reporter

Published: May 29, 2012
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Here in Pakistan, football hardly ever gets even remotely scandalous. PHOTO: FILE EXPRESS

Often I think about what I would write in my suicide note. I can’t really write that I killed myself out of boredom or the fact that being a sports journalist in Pakistan is equal to being dead.

But you can’t kill something that is already dead, so I’d say that being a sports journalist is like being undead. I realised I’m undead last week right in the middle of the dancing and celebrating with my fellow Chelsea supporters, when I felt the need to kill myself, understanding that covering Pakistani football for two years has never given me a single moment of joy but only a truckload of disappointment.

But where does it leave me as a reporter who covers Pakistani football? The foreign coaches hired by local federations never say anything exciting, sticking to their standard statements. If you want to work as a sports journalist in Pakistan, it is better that you understand that there is no such thing as sports journalism here. There is only cricket journalism. But you can’t blame cricket for the problems that exist in Pakistani sports. There’s got to be something else besides the lack of funds and negligible government support. I figured out that the problem basically lies with the people. What makes a sport popular? It is the personalities who play them.  The crux of the matter here is that Pakistani football has never seen a fiery personality.

Here in Pakistan, football hardly ever gets even remotely scandalous. The coaches will never give good quotes, the players can’t stop complaining and despite all the opinions, good, bad or ugly, they refuse to stand by them. That’s where they lose the battle — their lack of charisma, which means that they are unable to pull people towards themselves. Meanwhile, I’m left with a bunch of athletes and officials too scared to start off a controversy.

Maybe, people associated with minor sports should realise that the word ‘controversy’ is not all that evil. Since the players do not perform well internationally, they can voice their opinions on what is going wrong with their sport. But most officials of sports federations are politically appointed, which means that they would never want the status quo to change.

As a result, as a Pakistani sports reporter, who doesn’t cover cricket, one is often left yearning for some sort of controversy to enliven one’s dull days.

Read more by Natasha here.

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Natasha Raheel

A Karachi-based sports reporter for The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.