Managing editor Gareth Jones discusses the latest developments in the Sporting Life team and his own experiences during the coronavirus lockdown. Plus how you can help us support our NHS Heroes.
How are we all doing?
That's the question I've asked and been asked the most over the past few weeks and it remains the most important. I hope you and your loved ones are all keeping well.
My original ‘Letter from the Editor’ was planned as a one-off. I’m not important or intelligent enough to pen a regular column. However, as the lockdown becomes more stringent, its effects start to be felt harder, and reports emerge we may have to self-isolate for even longer, it is clear we all need to continue to talk to each other and keep communications open.
We all deal with challenges in different ways and I appreciate my ramblings will not be for everyone, but I hope for some of you I can offer moments of conversation and distraction.
I first want to thank all of you for being with us. Our team are working so hard to keep Sporting Life going during these difficult times and we all really appreciate your continued support and loyalty by being with us every day, every week.
Help us support the NHS
We are striving not to just produce engaging, intelligent, enjoyable content, but also to play our part in helping society during the coronavirus lockdown.
That's why I'm so delighted and proud that Sporting Life will be supporting the NHS over the coming weeks. Our Virtual Grand National coverage this week will be in aid of the NHS Charities COVID-19 urgent appeal.
This vital appeal raises money for the care of NHS staff and volunteers, including providing personal protective equipment, food, hotel accommodation and travel. I’m sure we are all in agreement that the work our NHS heroes are doing is incredible, quite literally putting their lives on the line for us and our families. You can read more about the appeal and donate here.
We will be unveiling some fun challenges and sponsorship opportunities for you to get involved in during the week, along with our Grand National sweepstake, which you can run with family, friends and work colleagues. So please do take a moment to check these out.
As so many people face financially uncertain futures it is incredibly hard to ask anyone to donate money right now. But I feel this is a wonderful opportunity for the Sporting Life family, which you are very much part of, and the racing industry as a whole to show the positive impact we can have. This is the time for us to unite to remind the world of the good that sport can achieve. Any little you can give, please do and I thank you so much for your support.
Whole spectrum of emotions
I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone through every emotion possible in the last 10 days, as I try to figure out this new life. Working from home, fighting for the only desk in the house with my wife, while caring for a busy and nosey 17-month-old is very testing. Yes, we need to keep this in perspective, we are being asked to sit on our sofa, not get into the trenches. But that doesn’t mean we should dismiss seeing our whole lives change and the toll this can take on us.
I’ve gone through extreme sadness when I could not be with my mum on her 70th birthday; dismay as my skiing holiday was postponed, at a time when I really needed a break; frustration as the building work on our home extension was suspended; fear at how the world will look after all this is over; and a lot of anger when watching Piers Morgan scream his views down the camera at me – I’m not sure that type of journalism is classed as ‘key work’. All small problems in the grand scheme.
I’ve also experienced joy due to spending more time with my daughter Georgia. On the whole she has been great, staying quiet through most, if not all, video conferences and entertaining herself as much as possible. Playing more of a part in her fledgling education and watching her learn new words and pick up new games every day provides an unrivalled happiness. Teaching her to say ‘Nanna’ so we could sing Happy Birthday to my mum over video call was an incredible moment, one I would not have experienced if not in lockdown. I know I’m lucky.
That is what we all have to focus on, the positives of this. I admit I’ve been down and fed up at points over the last week. But we cannot let this get us down forever or let it ruin our lives. We need to find new ways to interact with friends and family, new ways of finding fulfilment, fun and release in our lives. It can be easier said than done but it's important we strive to achieve this and, like anything tough, it will be worth doing.
Sporting Life team assemble
I promised in my first ‘letter’ that the Sporting Life team would remain here for you, working to provide as much engaging, entertaining editorial as possible. I appreciate many of you come to us for live sport and betting insight and those tips and live action are now very limited with most of the world’s sport suspended.
But I hope the content we have written has worked for you, whether that’s testing the old grey matter with our daily quiz; helping great memories flood back in racing's ‘Let’s talk about…’ series and our darts heroes articles; given you more statistical insight with football articles like ‘The Premier League’s best...’; or stirred debate with our 'Talking Golf' columns.
We are more than just betting previews, we are about sports insight, analysis and opinion and while forced to drop off the live sports treadmill I think we’ve been able to showcase this more. I hope you’ve found these articles interesting and informative, even if it’s not what you normally come to us for. Ultimately, when we are back to normal life, I hope some of the information you’ve gained from us will help in your future betting tactics and help provide even more winners.
Like myself and many of you, our team is adapting to a new way of living and working. Some have had to move out of their normal homes to protect family members, with some now living on their own. Others are living with more people than normal. Some are having to become teachers during the day and put their sports writer cap back on in the evenings.
One is teaching their children maths through playing darts; another testing his DIY skills by assembling a trampoline to ensure continued exercise for their child. For me, even as a former university lecturer, I’m finding CBeebies is by far a better educator than myself!
All of the team are still working so hard and I want to thank them all again for their dedication and professionalism.
We’ve been working on new ideas over the last few weeks and one of those is creating a new racing community group on Facebook. You can join this to enter a world of expert racing chat and debate with likeminded people.
This will be a forum where you can all get together, 24/7, and discuss, reminisce and share opinions and tips directly with each other. Just please be nice to each other, especially at this time.
Look out this week for details soon, but you can apply to join this private group, for free, here.
We are also undergoing a major redesign of our website to improve the user experience. We know not everything on our website is perfect, but we are working to solve these issues and make our product an even better one for you.
Progress will slow slightly during the lockdown, but over the next few weeks and months you will see our site looking different and performing even better.
Our Fast Results app for Apple phones (iOS) is developing into an all singing all dancing app, where you can now get all of our excellent racing editorial, previews, tips and videos. Football and all other sports will follow on this shortly. Just search 'Fast Results' in the App store to download this for free.
For the first time ever we have launched an Android app, which is really exciting and will provide even more of our readers with the ability to access Sporting Life through their phones in a much more convenient way. Like the Apple app, this has all of our racing features and live services, with football and all other sports joining later.
Search 'Sporting Life' to find this in places like the Google Play store. As it is new, you might need to scroll down a bit to find it.
Bye for now
Georgia is now crying, as she's got bored of chasing the cat around the house, so that's my signal to sign off. Thank you for taking the time to read my latest musings and, again, thank you for being with Sporting Life during this time.
If you would like to contact me directly then please do at firstname.lastname@example.org