There?s a lot to be admired about the Jamie Lyon fiasco, but here?s the part I just love above all else. Through all the tears, heartache and soul searching: absolutely no one cared where he ended up going. In fact, this was right up there with Jana Pittman, Mark Philippoussis and David Beckham on the ?sports stars that continually made the papers out of pity? list. Again, I must emphasize that I love the way they work, as they've always managed to make me chuckle every time I read their sad tales.
That was until I joined that sorry list.
As a roving sports journalist, I was completely adamant that I had the best job in the world. I was assigned to track the cricket one-day test series, and picked up the wickedest tan ever. I even went to the snooker championships and counted down from ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall to thirteen, my personal best. For a sports junkie, it couldn?t get any better than this.
Then my editor called in to tell me that there was a correspondence shortage, and that I was required to cover the Rugby League post for two weeks. I couldn?t believe it. Behind basketball, this was my favourite sport in the world, and I was about to be paid for covering it. Booyah!
?One proviso?, my editor said.
?Fire away?, I replied.
?We want you to put Sports Net on the Sky Sports media ticker?.
?Consider it done?, I quickly answered as I hung up the phone and proceeded to do some disorientated rendition of the Macarena out of pure excitement. A minute later, I completely stopped my tango, and looked back at the phone in confusion.
What in the blue hell was the Sky Sports media ticker?
I tuned into the station, and did a quick browse. Nothing looked familiar. I embarrassingly called my editor and asked him what the media ticker was. He laughed, and said to me ?You see that streaming text on the bottom of the screen with all the news updates filtering through??
?Yeeeeeeaaaaaaahhhhhh? I answered.
?That?s the ticker, and we want you to find a scoop that will put us on the media map,?
My heart completely sank. The only contacts I had in the Rugby League world were with the Cronulla Sharks. What possible news could I offer? But I gave it a chance, continually telling myself that this was my ticket into the big leagues.
I then read on the local forum that Adam Dykes was considering leaving Parramatta. Whether it was credible or not, I had to find out. I needed something, anything to present to my superiors. I spent two straight nights on the phone, calling agents and leagues clubs about the move.
Then came my big tip. I was advised via e-mail that Dykes was in fact pondering a move back to Cronulla and I promptly followed it up. It was true, Adam Dykes was moving back to Cronulla. Excellent!
I wrote the story, sent it to my editor, and resigned to my couch where I tuned into Sky Sports expecting to see something along the lines of "Sports Net reports that Adam Dykes will be returning to the Cronulla Sharks in 2005" stream across the bottom of the screen.
An hour later, I received a phone call saying that the deal was off. That Fitzgerald wasn?t going to let Dykes go.
I called my sources. No answer. I tried five minutes later, still no answer. This couldn?t be happening. My journalism career was flashing before me. Finally, someone picked up.
?Whatsgoingonyoutoldmethisdealwasgoingaheadandnow ivesentitthroughandamgoingtohavemyarsehandedtomei fitsincorrectpleasetellmeyouwerentbluffingpleasep leaseplease? I rushed.
?Mate, the deal is done, relax.?
A day later the story was released, but it never made the ticker. The schmucks at Sky Sports credited it to themselves. I realized at that point that unless it?s ?Craig Wing to pose nude? or ?Gorden Tallis to run for Prime Minister? no one cares about who breaks the news. I was just another most wanted unwanted, if you know what I mean?
So, the next time you see Phil Gould, shake his hand and call him Santa, because it?s not easy in this business. Alas, it?s another small part of what makes this sport so fun, and I love it.
Long live this industry, forum sevens, and Rugby League!
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