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First big-league reporting assignment is a real eye-opener
Covering the Gold Cup is a different experience
 
Published Sunday, June 23, 2019 11:06 pm
by Sam Palian | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON
Covering international professional sporting events like the Gold Cup soccer tournament brings out unexpected challenges and differences for young reporters.

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There were inevitably going to be a lot of firsts at my first Gold Cup as a member of the media.

Most of what I experienced could be expected, but having my credential categorized as a photographer and not as media was not expected and I’m sure was not intended, either. Had I known, I might have brought my camera to take advantage of the mistake.

Seeing Cuba’s head coach sporting faded jeans also wasn’t too expected, but I’m still not sure what to make of that.

As a 21-year-old-college student, I often forget that there are athletes out there playing sports professionally at ages younger than myself, so having it pointed out to me that there were three 18-year-old players on Canada’s roster in Jonathan David, Alphonso Davies and Noble Okello was pretty interesting. This isn’t too unusual, but it’s a lot to think about, especially when two of those players are major contributors to the team’s success.

When I was 18 and playing soccer, we ended a lot of our games with large margins of victory similar to Canada’s 7-0 win against Cuba, but that was high school. Not only is the field bigger, there are quite a few more fans. The stands may have been sparse early on, but the sea of Mexico’s red and green soon overshadowed most of the Panthers blue with nearly 60,000 fans in attendance.

The press box was a little more crowded than at a Charlotte 49ers football game, but there was also more than one language spoken which is definitely different than what I usually encounter. Some of it I could understand, but most of it went right over my head.

Feeling the stands rumble from the press box when Mexico scored was truly something else, but the difference in the frenzy that took place after the Mexico-Martinique game and the lack thereof following Canada-Cuba game said a lot. From throwing drinks, or food, to doing the wave to holding up cell phone flashlights, the Mexico fan base is something else.

Covering a professional soccer game is a little different than covering things like basketball and football and that was made pretty clear to me beforehand. For one, it’s more often that you encounter a language barrier, and aside from that, it’s also more likely that players and even coaches from the winning team will avoid talking to you at all costs.

But as a fan, this game can be so fluid and simple, and I think that’s part of why it draws such a fan base.

Sam Palian is sports editor at the Niner Times, UNC Charlotte’s campus newspaper, and a student journalist at The Post.

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