Shalom Life | May 04, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with TSN Reporter Mark Masters

As the Leafs gear up for tonight's season opener, we caught up with TSN reporter Mark Masters on his connection to Judaism, his predictions for the 2013-14 season, and if Reimer or Bernier will start as goalie for the Leafs

By: Daniel Koren

Published: October 1st, 2013 in Sports » Local

EXCLUSIVE: Interview with TSN Reporter Mark Masters

As the Toronto Maple Leafs gear up for their season opener against their arch rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, Shalom Life had a chance to chat with TSN's dedicated hockey reporter Mark Masters, a sports aficionado with a vast knowledge of the Maple Leafs - also a distinguished writer and avid twitter user - on his predictions on this year's NHL season, if it'll be James Reimer or Jonathan Bernier that will act as the Leafs starting goalie, and also, on how a young Jewish kid from Toronto was able to make his way to the big leagues of sports reporting.

"I've basically been a sports journalist my whole life," Masters tells me half jokingly over the phone late Monday evening. "I used to do the play-by-play at my elementary school gym classes. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to become a sports journalist and I've been lucky enough to get a job at TSN and cover the Leafs."

Masters goes on to make a very logical comparison of sports reporting to story telling, and that, where perhaps many don't realize it, talking sports is an art form. The most renowned and original sports reporters have been, he tells me, the most fascinating story tellers who always deliver news in a progressive and compelling fashion.

"There's a lot of emotion in sport," Masters explains, "so to be able to convey these emotions through stories is always interesting. Every day when I write a script, I think of different ways that I can tell stories that will really speak to people."

Sports 'motivates and inspires'

There are two main reasons why Masters loves sports, he explains to me, putting an emphasis on why he loves sports as a form of news. He also mentions that though he's always enjoyed playing them, "I wasn't any good at any sport in particular, of course," so, naturally, writing about it would be the next best thing. "In Canada, we definitely have a connection to hockey, but I've always been a fan of all sports. It's hard to find one I don't enjoy," he pauses. "Except, maybe, cricket."


(Masters sitting in the Rogers Centre press box before an Argos game)

"Sports can be a bit of an escape," he begins. "There's a lot of negative stories in the world, especially in the news. It's always about crime, corruption, greed, etc. But sports can be an escape for people, give them something interesting to follow that isn't always negative, but positive."

"The second reason is that it tells you a lot about society at times," Masters says. "Sports can be an outlet for change in the world, and is a way to motivate and inspire people. Great personal stories come out of the world of sports, and people aspire to do amazing things when they are being competitive."

The 29-year-old Masters, a Toronto native, officially started his career in journalism while studying the field at Carleton University, doing play-by-play for the Carleton Ravens and Ottawa Gee-Gees on Rogers TV in Ottawa, as well as online on the Streaming Sports Network.

Before he joined the National Post as a sports reporter in March 2010, where he gained a comprehensive knowledge of the Toronto sports scene, covering the CFL and the Toronto Argonauts, Masters was also a columnist with the Canadian Jewish News while studying at Carleton.

'I jumped at the chance to get involved with the Jewish community'

"I wrote a monthly column on issues concerning the Jewish community on campus," Masters tells me, a hint of pride in his voice. "My priority was to maintain the bonds between Jewish students on campus. As the Jewish community isn't always the biggest on certain campuses, it's easy to let the traditions fade. In Ottawa we were fortunate to have a strong community where we felt it was important to have Shabbat dinners every week, even though we were away from home," he explains.

"So as a columnist, I wrote about supporting Israel when there were anti-Israel activities happening on campus, which, unfortunately, there tends to be a lot of. It was great to be able to incorporate my own opinions, and to stress the importance of maintaing our heritage to other Jews at the university."

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