Michelle Brey is studying sport sciences at TUM. Soon she will be interviewing top international athletes such as Gesa Krause and Timo Boll on the occasion of the European Championships 2022 taking place in Munich from August 11 to 21. With this assignment, the TUM student will take her first steps into the world of sports journalism.
The European Championships will be the biggest multi-sport event in Munich since the 1972 Summer Olympics. Why are they letting students play a role in the media coverage?
Michelle Brey: "One of the areas of my sport sciences program deals with media and communications. And luckily for me, our lecturer, Romy Schwaiger from the Department of Media and Communications, is a big believer in hands-on experience. I took a course last winter on sports communications and sponsoring where Manuel Deutschmeyer, the PR manager of the European Championships, was also in the class. That’s where it all began. And now we’re just a few days away from the opening ceremony."
So you were lucky that you happened to attend that course in the year of the European Championships.
Michelle Brey: "Exactly. Last semester we were told that the seminar would include a project involving the European Championships. I thought at the time, that sounds pretty cool. Due to the pandemic I didn’t have many chances to gain hands-on experience during my studies as I spent months working from home. What’s more, I was already working as a freelance journalist. So I was even more determined not to miss out on this seminar on sports and journalism."
The course aims to take students from the lecture hall to the real world. The goal is to learn what it is actually like to work as a sports journalist. How does that look?
Michelle Brey: "Well, at this major event, the athletes compete in nine different sports: beach volleyball, canoe racing, climbing, athletics, cycling, rowing, table tennis, triathlon and gymnastics. For us that means that we’ll definitely find a few things to write about. What I’m hoping for: the chance to interview athletics competitors, for example the sprinter Gina Lückenkemper. And maybe Gesa Krause and Deniz Almas. Based on these interviews, we then write news stories or reports. We might also just prepare the interviews for publication. We’ll also have a project room at the TUM Campus in Olympiapark as a sort of miniature press office."
How close will you get to the professional athletes?
Michelle Brey: "The 14 course participants have the amazing opportunity to encounter the athletes even in training – because they actually train on our campus. The athletics events are taking place in the Olympic Stadium – barely a 10-minute walk from campus. I think that the atmosphere is just going to be more easy going than when we talk to them right after their events and just hear the usual clichés. And maybe they’ll have more time – or will be willing to take time for us when they hear about our course. Naturally it will depend on whether the athletes take the opportunity to approach us on campus. If not, then we’ll have to try to talk to them at the events. It’s all about having the courage."
You seem to have a passion for athletics.
Michelle Brey: "Yes, definitely. As a seven and eight year old I was involved in athletics and entered competitions. But fairly soon after that I switched to soccer where I did quite well. But I won’t be just watching the athletics events. I’m also interested in beach volleyball and climbing as well as the table tennis with Timo Boll."
I’ll ask you anyway: what is it that excites you about athletics?
Michelle Brey: "For example the sprinters, who train for an event that lasts around 11 seconds where they have to deliver their best performance. Of course that’s enormous. Everything can go perfectly – or fall apart. So you just have to nail it. And regardless of the sport, I’m fascinated by the ability of the athletes to come through when they need to in a huge event like this with so many medals at stake."
Do you have a role model among the athletes competing in the European Championships?
Michelle Brey: "Yes! The sprinter Gina Lückenkemper. She recently broke the 11 second mark again. I find her very exciting and always follow her events. She is really a role model for me, especially when it’s about: How do I train? How do I handle pressure? That’s why I’d love to interview her."
That will definitely give you some input for your articles. But what is the actual goal of the course?
Michelle Brey: "Practical experience. Our instructor keeps reminding us: of course she can teach us all kinds of theoretical things, but in the end it’s all about writing. And when it comes to sports, it’s about trying things out. About making mistakes and getting better. But of course theory is still important: In the winter semester we learned the journalistic fundamentals and wrote some practise texts. That was very helpful especially for the participants who had never worked in journalism."
So the Championships will be an excellent best practice example?
Michelle Brey: "Absolutely. We’ll learn to work under time pressure and still meet the deadlines with our articles. For me it’s also about making contacts with as many athletes as possible. Networking is very important for sports journalists. And of course, even if we have to work there: we all intend to enjoy the European Championships to the fullest."