How to support our sports coverage (without asking a billionaire) | Jonathan Liew

The Guardian’s team will be covering all the action throughout this exciting season of international sport. If you like what we do, here’s how you can help keep us live and kicking

Sportswriting is, among many other things, a terrific ego trip. Perhaps all forms of journalism are in their own way. But there’s something about the purity and the passion that sport generates: that vast reservoir of emotion and yearning you’re tapping into, the buzz of a full arena when you enter it for the first time, plastic lanyard clacking around your neck, complimentary programme (retail price: £8) tucked underneath your arm. Put it this way: to be a sportswriter you don’t have to be a narcissistic, thrill-seeking freeloader hooked on the dopamine of likes and retweets and the kick of seeing your name in print. But, um, it doesn’t necessarily hurt.

Then again, when you work somewhere as renowned as the Guardian, you are frequently reminded that your fragile self-esteem is built on the labours and love of others. The page designer who fits your words perfectly into a pre-assigned slot and surrounds it with pictures and fancy graphics. The subeditor who gets in touch shortly before deadline to politely point out it is generally customary for sentences to contain a verb. The web publishers and social media bods who make sure your article will actually be seen. The in-house lawyers who make sure you haven’t accidentally libelled Roman Abramovich.

The point is this: making journalism has always been a preposterously complex business, a gargantuan operation built on a cast of thousands and sustained only by the goodwill and patience of its readers (the page where you can give is here, just FYI). I should qualify that: making good journalism is complex. Bad journalism, on the other hand, can be done by a shoestring operation on the thriftiest of budgets, and very often is. And perhaps it would be the easiest thing for everyone if we just decided to downgrade the whole operation and staff it with underpaid interns churning out Wag galleries and made-up Manchester United transfer stories and headlines like “What is WrestleMania, what time does it start and if you peer closely can you see my soul leaving my physical body?” Perhaps it would make more commercial sense to litter our webpages with pop-up ads and autoplay videos and make you answer three questions about toothpaste before being able to read anything. Perhaps it would be more efficient to have an Official Betting Partner.

But of course, we aspire to more than that. Moreover, we think you aspire to more than that. Look: I’m sure the last thing you want right now is some elegiac wail about how wonderful the Guardian is and how noble a cause we all serve and how our offices smell of juniper and truth. This isn’t personal. It’s business. If you read this website on a regular basis and want to continue doing so, then at some stage we should probably have a conversation about how that’s all going to work out.

Summer of Sport

This summer there’s a European Championship and a Copa America, the Olympic and Paralympic Games, a packed summer of international men’s and women’s cricket, a British & Irish Lions tour, the return of Wimbledon and the Open Championship, the Tour de France, a Ryder Cup, a Solheim Cup, and Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder. That is, in essence, four months of wall-to-wall live sports coverage: news, interviews, features, podcasts, interactive graphics and snarky Jonathan Liew columns about how everything is racist. There’s the investigations that take ages to get, and get right – rugby’s dementia crisis, the Haiti sex abuse scandal and so on. Plus all the other little bits that make up the universe of sport: the quizzes, the cartoons, the newsletters, the vivid below-the-line discussions. All for you, all for free. And you’re welcome to it.

However. At some point, some of this is going to have to be paid for. And in this respect, our hands are somewhat bound. We don’t have some billionaire owner in deck shoes and tailored shorts bankrolling the whole operation from his tax-exempt yacht. We don’t have our own bingo site. We don’t believe in a paywall as we believe the very poorest in society should have exactly the same access to Barney Ronay similes as the very wealthiest. We can’t ask the Saudis. We can’t ask Roman Abramovich because, between you and me, he’s a bit of a [the rest of this sentence has been redacted]. I hate to put it like this, but the truth is: this is pretty much on you.

And maybe the specific “you” in this case doesn’t have anything to offer right now. Maybe you can’t afford it. Maybe you already give us something. Maybe this very article has reminded you to take out a subscription to the Telegraph. Maybe you don’t quite like the Guardian enough and reckon you could get by without it. This is all fine. But – and I can say this, because I’ve spent most of my career so far working elsewhere – if this place does cease to exist, whatever replaces it is almost certainly going to be worse, and most probably come with pop-up adverts …

So if you’d like to support our journalism, from as little as £1, you can do so here. It only takes a minute and it can make a huge difference.

Anyway. That’s quite enough plaintive supplication for now. Thanks for reading – and see you again at some point during the summer.


Jonathan Liew

The GuardianTramp

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