Whether you’re into YouTubers from the golden era or a new TikToker who’s pushing the boundaries of creativity and expression, the internet has something for everyone. The Digital Culture writers want to take a moment to give thanks to the people who have created each juicy piece of internet-ainment we’ve watched over the years. In paying homage to the creators who have helped us grow, inspired our own creative endeavors or even just provided some comfort in a time of need, we hope that we can pay forward just a bit of the goodness they gave to us.
The population of India is 1.4 billion. Remember that number; it’s important — I’ll come back to it later.
Having lived in India all my life, I learned one thing very quickly: Society expects a lot. Everybody expects you to have your shit together at any given moment, so it often feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. Now imagine that “everybody” is 1.4 billion people; the pressure is unyielding. For a teenager, that pressure manifests itself into one question — the one question all adults ask within the first 0.7 seconds of any interaction — what are you going to do with your life? And if the answer isn’t a lawyer, doctor, engineer or businessperson, you’re in trouble. I know generalizations are not good, but I can confidently say that most Indians will agree with this sentiment.
I’m lucky. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that encouraged me to explore my passions. But being constantly surrounded by the idea that pursuing anything besides the four aforementioned career paths was a waste of time did influence my thought process. I’ve always enjoyed sports, writing and computer science, but you can probably guess which of those I ended up taking up as a major. I want to believe that I picked computer science because it was what I wanted to do and not because, out of the three options I had, it was the choice that society deemed correct. In truth, I believe that I was discouraged from the other career paths because I bought into the narrative that the chances of “making it” in those fields were low. I bought into it to the extent that a career in sports or writing would only be something I truly considered if I had adequate inspiration. Enter Chris Hamill.
Hamill came from humble beginnings. Working towards his B.A. in film and television studies from the University of Nottingham, he put himself through college with employment as a sales advisor at several small firms. After his graduation, he worked in advertising for three years while also taking an intensive eight-week course at the New York Film Academy. With all the creative, production and lobbying skills he had developed, he entered the world of sports media and journalism, which just happens to be my area of interest. In 2016, Hamill started a process that has culminated in him creating content for over 10 million people around the world about the game he loves: soccer.
An avid follower of the sport since the age of 7, I was introduced to soccer’s internet community by a UK-based YouTube channel known as Football Daily — a channel on which Hamill was a regular feature. True to their name, Hamill and a team of about two dozen people put out content every day of the week, with videos ranging from simple Top 10s to 20-minute reviews of soccer happenings around the world to nearly hour-long deep dives and analytical videos. Today, Chris Hamill is a writer and producer for Football Daily, now one of the biggest independent soccer channels on YouTube. A mainstay on my Instagram, TikTok and Reddit feeds, Chris Hamill’s voice and vision have changed the way I view the game, and, more importantly, the way I view journalism.
“Journalism is dying.” It’s a phrase I have heard with increasing frequency and for someone new to the industry, it took me some time to understand why people feel that way. While I cannot speak for other parts of the journalism industry, for years I have seen sports journalism descend into chaos and agenda-based reporting. It is almost laughable how often players of color are held to a ridiculously high standard, to the extent that they can’t ever seem to do anything right. “Journalists” would rather scrutinize the money a footballer spends on their house, car and haircuts than on their on-pitch performance. TV pundits would rather wax lyrical about their favorites and blindly criticize those they don’t fancy than use statistics or just an open mind to form their opinions. There is an obvious benefit to having ex-pros as TV pundits. They draw in crowds and their knack for sensationalism makes broadcasters money, which at the end of the day, is their main goal. But they just don’t know enough about the sport from an analytical point of view, and that’s where Football Daily was like a breath of fresh air.
Chris Hamill is part of a dying breed, but is also a testament to the fact that there is still a place in this industry for those willing to focus on fact, not fiction. Hamill and the channel’s insistence on prioritizing unbiased reporting coupled with a light-hearted and systematic approach to presenting made their videos informative as well as entertaining. What stood out to me about Hamill in particular was his attention to detail. From the scripts he writes to his statistical analysis, I was constantly reminded that journalism is a lot more than just being a good writer. He and the channel also showed a willingness to adapt as the football world went through a statistical revolution, during which they ensured that they were delivering up-to-date content. And what showed up above all of Hamill’s football know-how was his empathy. In direct contrast with the bigotry seen in mainstream football coverage, Hamill has gone out of his way to shine light on marginalized communities in football. Hamill became the first person on the internet who showed me what true journalism is — so much so that if someone were to ask me what my dream job looked like, I’d say it’s doing what he does. Hamill was the inspiration I needed.
As of today, I have seen Hamill host a soccer trivia game show, be a recurring guest on a statistically driven podcast, create multiple information-oriented short videos, produce documentary-style stories and be a regular on a plain old weekly punditry show. I’ve seen him do all the things I would love to do one day, and following his journey has instilled in me the belief that that might actually be possible. There are a lot of lies and hate on the internet, and on more than one occasion this hatred has disillusioned me from the game that I love. Whenever I feel that way, I listen to Chris Hamill. He is a prime example of someone who, without compromising his values, has made it to the top of his field and unlike many of the athletes he reports on, he is the kind of hero I need.
Daily Arts Writer Rushabh Shah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.