Husky football is going global in a new episode of a new series on Eurosport 2 about sports around the world. Eurosport 2 is part of a pan-European sports network that is broadcast in 20 languages, reaching 120 million homes and 240 million viewers across 59 countries.
A Eurosport 2 television crew visited Storrs during Homecoming Week for the “JEZ Do It” documentary series, which features journalist and amateur athlete Jeremy Buxton providing a behind the scenes look at sports in various different countries.
“The goal of the program is not only to learn about new sports that we don’t know so much about in Europe,” said Buxton, a former soccer player, “but I actually try to participate in the sports as much as possible. We like to get an idea of how amazing these athletes are.” Buxton has previously broadcast stories about Australian Rules football and the World Skateboarding Championships that took place in Boston last June.
Buxton works with just a producer and a cameraman, in order to get as close to the athletes as possible and not interfere with the activities he documents. The college football episode will be the third program in the JEZ series, a half-hour documentary format that began last year. After airing on Eurosport 2 sometime in November, Buxton said, the program will be rebroadcast across the other Eurosport channels, similar to the way ESPN uses its multiplatform network to extend its program content.
He said UConn was selected to be the focus of the college football episode because of the wide access provided by head football coach Randy Edsall and his staff.
“I warmed up, trained with them. Spent a week with them not only on the football side, but going to lectures to find out how players juggle their academics with their football,” he said. “It’s a formidable thing they’re trying to do and still compete at such a high level.”
In addition to following Husky student-athletes to their classes, practices, and training sessions, the Paris-based Eurosport team shopped at the UConn Co-op, took a campus tour with a student from the Lodewick Visitors Center, and spoke with fans, alumni, and tailgaters outside Rentschler Field in East Hartford during the Huskies’ 40-21 Homecoming game victory over Vanderbilt.
The veteran journalist said his viewing audience will find much to be impressed about in American universities and the experiences of student-athletes.
“That kind of dedicated sport where people arrive four hours before a game is truly unique in America,” Buxton said. “I’ve traveled all over the world to sporting events and haven’t seen it before. The popularity of college football on its own has also impressed us. University sports in Europe just don’t have that.
“We were blown away by how big things are,” he added, “how big the campus is, how well-equipped it is. The library had the latest computers. The finance that goes into these kids’ education is impressive. The footballers themselves are incredible. For guys 17 to 24 years old, they’re incredibly mature. It’s a credit to the coaching staff.”
Buxton said after completing the work on the UConn football episode, he and his team will head back to Europe to begin considering his next series of stories, possibly on snowboarding, the Japanese soccer league, or cricket in India.