COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the world of sports – Events postponed until gatherings are safe again, athletes training and staying conditioned at home and seasons put on hold with hopes of normalcy returning soon.
With changes to the game come changes for those who cover it. Media members such as FOX Sports Ohio’s Dave Maetzold, longtime Columbus Blue Jackets in-game reporter and staple on CBJ telecasts, have adapted their coverage for social distancing requirements. We talked to Maetzold via Zoom to learn more about his work during COVID-19.
From moving studio coverage to Zoom, to holding Instagram Live conversations with players, here’s a look at Maetzold’s work covering sports without sports actually being played.
What is your work typically like, and how has it changed during the stay-at-home order?
“It is strictly driven by that day’s game, and what we do in the morning to prepare for it, and how we cover that game during game time. I do some features too, which obviously have all but gone by the wayside. There’s still some things we can do. But most of what I do is game driven.”
What are some ways you and the FOX Sports Ohio team have moved content online during the pandemic?
“We had one of our more interesting days last Wednesday where we got the whole crew together – the whole pregame, game telecast, everybody together – to do a half hour show. It was just like this, in a Zoom-type setting. And it was all heavily dependent on everybody’s internet and how strong their Wi-Fi was in their house.
But it was a conversational discussion on where [the Blue Jackets team] would be if it was coming back this week, or this month, or in a week and a half. And it was also a time to look back at what happened exactly a year ago, which is what a lot of people are doing. For us, other than the conduit, it was just was just exactly like it was on the air. Trying to keep it conversational, trying to keep people informed about what’s going on with the Blue Jackets, even if nothing’s going on.”
What has your interaction been like with players and coaches during COVID-19?
“I talked to David Savard for an Instagram Live chat, which was fantastic because we had a longer forum where we could ask about, ‘OK, how are you getting through this with your family?’ He’s got a two-month-old baby at home and he’s got two toddler-aged kids. [We talked] how are they training, which is really interesting. David Savard said last year at this time, he took all of his equipment from his house, all of his training equipment, and he sent it to his other house in Montreal thinking, ‘Well I’ll never use this. I have a gym at Nationwide Arena that I go to. I’ll never need anything at home.’ Well now he wishes he had all of his stuff at home.
I talked to Cam Atkinson right after his son was born, and said, ‘Hey congratulations on your son being born. What else are you doing?’ [He said] just trying to get ready the best he can. From that aspect it’s just been different for everybody in terms of trying to come up with a day-to-day plan and then for us trying to cover whatever anybody’s day-to-day plan might be.”
We’ve seen so many athletes, coaches and teams give back during the pandemic. What’s been your favorite story of an athlete doing good during this time?
“One that I really like, and you talk about things I was genuinely moved by, is that Nick Foligno has been fantastic through all of this. He did a video message for a nurse at the McConnell Heart Hospital who has COVID-19. He did a video message for her on her birthday. And [it was] just really something to see him step up and do that, and her reaction was priceless.
Those are the types of things that are easy for athletes to do with technology like this… and really have an impact and make a connection that, if it weren’t for this stuff, probably wouldn’t have ever been made. That one was the one that was really moving for me because it made such an impression on this woman who was battling the virus and, if she weren’t battling the virus, she’d be on the front line helping other people. So that was my favorite one so far.”
Without the presence of live sports during this unprecedented time, we’re grateful for the people at FOX Sports Ohio for keeping us close to the players and teams we love!
You can read more about the ways Columbus sports teams are engaging the community during COVID-19 here. Stay connected with Columbus sports with the Virtual Sports Report, a free weekly Zoom series with Columbus sports teams and professionals to talk about updates and operations during COVID-19. You can learn more and register for upcoming episodes here.