Ever heard that saying, “when you do what you love, you do not end up doing a job; you end up getting paid for following your passion.”
Chances of you hearing the above are perhaps more than the number of times the wheels of your car turn in motion each time you take it out for a spin.
But guess what, when it comes to doing serious stuff in life, such as making one’s career, there happens to be this field where the wheels spin in motion with double the excitement; chances of opportunities and growth.
When it comes to forging one’s career in the sphere of writing, then regardless of where you look today, you’d be struck by a realization.
It seems we are in that part of an age where sports writing has truly come into its own.
No longer does it need attribution of phrases or sentences such as – an unorganized industry, a career in a nascent stage, not yet fully organized or extensive.
Sports journalists or sports writers are there in aplenty; there are rising by the tick of a clock, they are succeeding, and exhibiting a fine blend of creative expression and knowledge related to the sheer love for something that’s hailed universally, i.e., sport.
Just imagine the simple fun of pursuing a career in sports writing. You began wielding the bat in your neighbourhood colony or you derived pleasure in being called the Sampras or Agassi at your residential club’s tennis court.
You eventually progressed into spinning all that love for the sport and your awareness about talents, tournaments; the ups and downs of both into a sphere where you make a living and with it, a name amid a community where perhaps everyone is either a self-proclaimed expert or a well-read individual.
Wouldn’t that be just brilliant?
Forget being a full-time writer or sports editor, the least of all one could do is to be a sports writing intern. It’s seemingly a common terminology today that, given the rarity of it say a decade and a half ago, seemed as perplexing as the difference between an analogue signal and a digital signal.
Back then, websites were few, information portals that seemingly published only quick news pieces ran commonly but there was a clear dearth of forums where one could engage in rabble, leave honest impressions, and above anything else, entertain a sport-loving audience as much as informing them about a game, whether it was Tennis, Football or, the good old cricket.
But implicit in this change has been the rise and rise of knowledgeable sports fans that have turned writers.
It’s pardon the cliché, empowering of the fans.
Candidates today exist in multiples for singular vacancies pertaining to the post of a writer, senior writer, top contributor, analyst, or editor.
There being no dearth of digital sports platforms that publish a wide range of sporting content, there’s been a brilliant resurgence of Formula 1 too. Just imagine a country obsessing over cricket finding chunks of first-hand, informative, widely researched, analytical pieces on the world’s most expensive sport?
Oh, how brilliantly has India evolved in the sphere of sports journalism, isn’t it? And implicit in this change, there happen to be several writers but only a few who happen to reach serious designations at such a young age as 22.
Among the few in India, who happen to represent the changing tide of sports journalism and extend a freshness in perspective woven around sport (and content generation) are youngsters like Dhruv George.
Currently working in the capacity of an Editor, at one of the leading online sports platforms in the country- Essentially Sports- Dhruv George is a man of few words but of many unique expressions when it comes to writing.
A simple conversation with Dhruv reveals a few insights about his personality. To be fair to him and others his age, I have to confess there’s this quiet simplicity about him that stands out when you compare it with others his age that can commonly be garrulous talkers and a bit over the top in their outlook toward pretty much everything. Dhruv’s writings, some of which I’ve personally loved especially dealing in Formula 1 reflect his simplicity, measured usage of words and do not seem in any way condescending. Even as he speaks from a position of knowing a subject with a certain authority, his words do not hit you down as if being struck on the head like a hammer.
In his innocent, straight-talking, and smooth way of expressing what he does for a living, why he does it and where he feels sports writing currently stands in India, Dhruv made what might have been a run-of-the-mill Q&A into an interesting treasure trove of perspectives I was particularly intrigued about.
Here’s something you ought to know about the young Editor of Essentially Sports, who happens to be a literature graduate from Bombay’s revered Saint Xavier’s. He’s someone who’s written for a wide array of online publications dealing in sport, including some of the biggies in Asia such as Sportskeeda, where, in the capacity of an Analyst, Dhruv’s hit a double century in the number of articles he’s published. His writings in the Bangalore-based organization have touched nearly 5 lakh views.
He follows Tennis and is very passionate about Formula 1, and happens to write extensively about the two sports. At an age where it may not be wrong to suggest many of his contemporaries are often found dabbling with different professions, perhaps attempting to find that first affirmative step into launching a reliable career ahead, Dhruv happens to be in a state that’s similar to what Kimi Raikkonen said at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:
“Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing!”
In my chat with Dhruv, which began from discussing the current Formula 1 season, I was taken to a quaint stroll down the memory lane where we discussed Senna, before hitting the discussion about the current greats on the grid, Alonso, Vettel, Raikkonen before we finally arrived at a concerted understanding of the opportunities that exist for sports writers today.
How did you decide to get into F1 writing?
Formula 1 is something I’ve always been passionate about. I guess it’s a simple answer here: I thought there’s sense in pursuing what I am passionate about.
I started watching the sport back in the day of the famous Schumacher and Hakkinen days and I simply loved the thrill and excitement of Grand-Prix racing at it’s very best.
There can often be races where there’s not so much of action but by and large, F1 has retained the thrill and excitement it always brought out to fans.
Why I got into writing was because one of the earliest stints in my career required me to write on sports and while I began doing news pieces that were primarily about Formula 1 and Tennis there was always this love for writing about F1.
I felt confident of my abilities and the fact that I could pen my thoughts onto a piece of paper and make them meaningful. The idea, however, wasn’t to become this or that but to remain honest to the point I was trying to make and how to make it.
Why does one find commonly a lot of content on popular, evergreen drivers and those who are, sort of mainstream in F1?
There’ll always be evergreen heroes; the greats like James Hunt, Niki Lauda, and Schumacher who people always love to read about. But surely, I’d say the chances of getting views on an article and there being more articles on Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel is significantly higher because these are names that drive the sport and the fan-culture around the world.
Simply take Lewis and Vettel away from the current grid, and we are left with only Raikkonen and Alonso who happen to appeal to the popular culture; okay put Verstappen’s big rise in the group. But more or less, you have pretty much lesser explored drivers.
How do you manage multiple deadlines in your work? There may be days where it could happen that Vettel’s won a race and a Federer has picked up a grand slam!
I guess I’ll put it down to practice. The more you write, the better you understand your subject, your awareness of it; and the pressure that comes along to deliver better and in the due course of time.
We may be in an age where the mediums of expression are myriad with each being different, but I guess what hasn’t changed is the love you have for writing and what it can make you do. I started writing in my teen-years before I went the professional route, so I can say an early start probably helped me out. I guess, it’s about the love for what you do and the consistency with which you do it, in the end.
What do you make of today’s social mediums? How big a role do they play in shaping one’s views through an article and taking it to wider audiences?
The World Wide Web is a big ocean for content writers and especially, sports writers. Today, we have the bandwidth of reaching out to so many audiences that are in all different parts of the world courtesy just posting the URL to an article in groups that have following.
If you’ve been sincere with what you’ve been doing for some time, not only will it help you get an audience-base, nevermind the size of it; as long as some know you write and write regularly. The next best thing is to identify where on for instance, on a Facebook or Twitter handle can you post your article.
At Essentially Sports, we target viewership through social media platforms like Facebook in particular. These are the media that take your work to a broader set of an audience so a great benefit is getting unbiased feedback for so many who end up reading your work aren’t from the same geographic location you are based at. They don’t even know you; apart from the author’s name.
With this, comes the chances of virality, provided you don’t write with the ambition of making something immensely popular and sacrificing your honesty and passion.
Do you think podcasts are the future of sports journalism?
Not only that; they are also the present. Many leading sports platforms run regular podcasts. They are like your internet radio for sports fans. Listening often unites us in ways that writing probably never can. Yet, I’d bat for writing content. Long-form is still in, provided one knows how not to drain one out.
At the end of the day, as writers, our responsibilities are to offer unbiased and honest views without taking sides. When you read a race review, it could appear one-sided favouring a driver. But it should, at its core, offer an entire action of the grid.
What do you think of Moto-GP?
I also happen to write on Moto-GP. It’s one of my favourite sports and I find it very thrilling and brilliant. It’s so unpredictable and always mired in danger and threat.
Finally, whose your favourite F1 driver and why?
My favourite F1 driver would be Jenson Button. He’s a thorough gentleman and had a lot of class. What I liked about him most was his smooth, uncomplicated driving style. I really enjoyed his 2009 championship win. He was simple and consistent.
What’s your message to rising sports writers?
I guess I’ll say be honest with your work and never give up trying. Be consistent with your work; there are no cutting corners here. Try and be as clear or succinct as you possibly can and in the end, enjoy what you do. It’s a really satisfying space to be in, at the end of the day.