Last updated: October 6, 2012 8:28 am
Zukerman making history at McGill
SACKVILLE (CUP) — When the Redmen win, he is there. When there is a major announcement or a press release to be filed, he is there. Every fall, 28 varsity teams at McGill University begin their drive for national glory and he has been there for the past 34 years to get the word out.
Earl Zukerman, McGill's Communications Officer for the Athletics Department is Canada's longest active sports information officer at the university level after last season's retirement of Jack Neumann from the University of Calgary. However the job isn't as easy as some people might think.
Calling it "a huge challenge," Zukerman said that the job is not made for everyone. Burnout is the highest contributing factor to the turnover in positions like his across the country.
"[It's] rare that a sports information officer last three to five years," he said.
His job includes many tasks, ranging from writing and sending out press releases to maintaining schedules, scores and team rosters. During the fall, the job is especially demanding, with Zukerman having to forfeit many of his weekends.
"Not too many people like to give up their weekends and its rare to find someone that even has the passion to do that and almost set aside the rest of your personal life," he said. "It's a maddening type of job, but I like what I do."
During especially busy fall weekends, Zukerman said that he sometimes has 25 or 30 games to write about.
Having writing thousands of articles for McGill Athletics, as well as for several news wire services across the country, Zukerman often catches himself getting repetitive with his prose.
"It's a trap you can't avoid," he said. Although he noted that it is hard to be a creative writer, he adheres to Canadian Press (CP) style and tries to complement the article with an interesting quote, picture or an amusing headline.
Throughout his career as a Sports Information Officer, Zukerman has many fond memories.
"I'd have to say McGill's winning [of] its first national championship in football in '87 was probably the ultimate."
He also pointed to the men's hockey team, the oldest in the country, winning it's first national championship last year after 136 years of futile attempts, and to the women's hockey team's recent dominance over the past decade.
"They really went from rags to riches," he said of the women's team.
"They were the worst team in the country when I first started in the mid-1980s. They'd be a winless team year after year or close to a winless team, and then in the last decade they're among the top two or three teams in the country every single year. And they've won three national titles."
For now, Zukerman remains busy writing the first draft of history with each press release.