When Scott Russell is broadcasting a major sporting event, like the Olympic Games or the World Cup, his job can be one of the most demanding in Canadian media. Rather than filing 90-second reports or game summaries to the CBC, he’s more likely to be hosting all-day coverage on the network or scrumming for access to the world’s greatest athletes.
“We’re on the air sometimes every night for three weeks at a time – and our show might last three hours a night,” says Russell. “That can be gruelling. That can be a physical toll.”
For the past quarter century, Russell has excelled in high-pressure, live sports broadcasting for the CBC, bringing a wealth of knowledge and passion to his stories. He’s broadcast multiple Stanley Cup finals, several Olympics and the World Cup.
But before he became a journalist, Russell had another career – as a high school teacher in Owen Sound. Russell says that he “didn’t like disciplining kids who had to be in mandatory programs” and wasn’t cut out for the job. At the time, he was writing opinion pieces for the Owen Sound Sun Times and later enrolled in Western’s journalism school to pursue a writing career.
After arriving at Western, he realized that few of his classmates were interested in sports journalism and decided to make the Western Mustangs his beat for the year. When he graduated from the program in 1985, Russell won a coveted spot in the CBC’s summer training program and a lifelong career with the public broadcaster was born.
By the late 1980s, Russell was working as a sports anchor in Montreal, and eventually as the city’s host and reporter for Hockey Night in Canada. In 1995, he became the host of Western Canada hockey games for the iconic hockey program. He left the show in 2003 to become the host of Sports Weekend, the CBC’s program about Olympic-style sports.
Russell says that he’s spent his entire career with the CBC because it’s “the only broadcaster of high performance sport of record in the country.”
“And also, I think that one of the hallmarks of CBC’s coverage of Olympic-style sport...is that we don’t just cover Canadians, we also reflect what’s happening in terms of outstanding performance on the part of international athletes, regardless of where they come from. You’re not there to be a cheerleader. You’re there to tell the story of sport and what happens on the field of play.”
Read the complete story: Faculty of Information and Media Studies Journalism Alumni Gallery of Distinction
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