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Coronavirus log: How covering sport has worked during the COVID-19 lockdown

When reflecting on these past 18 days working from my wife's dressing table(!), it is not just a sore back I have got out of it (thankfully), but also a real sense of fulfilment.

Like people up and down the country, I have had to adapt with my team (which has halved due to the furloughing process) to a completely alien situation.

In any normal year at this time our sports department would be trying our best to juggle a mountain of incoming work in the 'crossover season'.

Coronavirus sport graphic (31962738)
Coronavirus sport graphic (31962738)

This is where the winter and summer sports collide for a period of time with all clubs wanting and expecting their usual level of coverage to be maintained.

The football, rugby and hockey seasons are hitting a crescendo with the culmination of a year's hard work in both league and cups, while the cricket and speedway campaigns are full of the excitement of transfers being completed and predictions being aired on the eve of their campaigns.

Barriers stop entry to the home of Haverhill Borough FC as all sport is cancelled during the Coronavirus shutdown..Pic - Richard Marsham. (32108725)
Barriers stop entry to the home of Haverhill Borough FC as all sport is cancelled during the Coronavirus shutdown..Pic - Richard Marsham. (32108725)

That is not even mentioning the many individual sportsmen and women we cover throughout the year across a multitude of sports.

But suddenly, we were faced with no matches to cover and no idea of if or when our teams' seasons might resume.

It looked a bit like we had stepped into a black hole with people saying to me 'what are you covering?'

But there was plenty still to do to both answer all the questions which had arose and get the reaction from it from the key figureheads. And it was an evolving picture to manage that often required turning on the laptop late at night to update our readers.

Coronavirus Log (32616897)
Coronavirus Log (32616897)

We also, in some ways, became business reporters, as we highlighted the financial challenges our clubs were facing, in some cases helping direct our readers to help them find a path through, in the case of Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club's £50,000 crowdfunding page.

All that alone was not enough to fill even our reduced pages and websites though, so that is where the reflection and innovation sparked to life.

Suddenly my team were coming up with cracking feature ideas and online series' to indulge in some local sports nostalgia.

It seems to have been well received by our audiences and, I've got to say, has been fun to do too.

Of course, I miss covering games and all that that brings, but the creativity that this situation has unleashed has been refreshing.

And then there has also been the strong sense of community within the sporting circles we cover which has risen to the fore.

For example, the Bury Town players using their holiday fine fund to deliver hand creams and other useful gifts to hospital workers, Thetford Town FC players donating £2,000 of their fines money to the NHS and offering free entry to their games to NHS staff next season. And then there was also Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club's virtual pass for health workers.

Thinking outside the box (sorry about the sport pun!) is something I'm sure everyone still working is having to do and with that I hope, like myself, you are taking a moment to step back and feel the sense of pride at where we have all got to with this.

It is the same emotion I hope we all get to feel when this lockdown period is lifted and, hopefully, we can reflect on the part we played in helping to save people's unnecessary deaths to this terrible virus.

Day 18 highlight: Being able to get out with my children for a walk and play at lunch, something not possible working at the office.

Day 18 lowlight: Waking up to find the internet connection was gone for my area (I managed to tether from a mobile phone).

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