Last May, I came to Brazil to shadow surfer John John Florence and his film crew on the final surf trip for his much-awaited film, View From a Blue Moon. It was a special week.
On that trip, I met a new friend, Rosaldo, who is a journalist and surfer and knows everyone from the local jiu jitsu champion to the most famous Telenovela actor in Brazil to the mayor of Rio. He was working as the “fixer” for the film crew.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a fixer is essentially a know-it-all, producer-type local who is able to connect journalists with the subjects they want to interview, knows how to navigate bureaucratic red tape in difficult countries and has the relationships to facilitate any request. In Brazil and want to interview the mayor, surf a secret spot or go into a favela to speak with a drug dealer? Done. Done. And done.
Yesterday, Rosaldo took one of my colleagues from The Undefeated into a favela to report a story I can’t wait to read. Tonight, he took my Rio roommate, Mina, to watch opening ceremonies at a five-star hotel in Copacabana and see how Brazil’s richest one percent live. And I hopped a ride to Copa with them.
My video producers Ashly and Johnathan and I were headed to the Nike house in Copacabana to watch opening ceremonies and check out their “product innovations” for 2016 and the Palace Hotel where Rosaldo and Mina were headed was right next door, so they dropped us off like Mom and Dad on movie night.
(My favorite tech innovation, by the way, was a bright blue cooling cap designed specifically for the head of Ashton Eaton, to keep him comfortable in between events during his grueling two-day schedule of decathlon competitions.)
For those of you who are wondering why I wasn’t at opening ceremonies, only a few ESPNers actually attend the event each Olympics. I went in Beijing, was wow’d and then realized after the dancing and singing and human robotics, that I had to sit for three more hours watching a sportier version of a high school graduation procession. Lesson learned.
The opening ceremonies is a cool celebration and the men and women who perform in it work tirelessly to put on an incredible show for the world. It should be savored and appreciated … and that is much easier to do while seated comfortably, surrounded by friends and with a glass of wine in your hand. Done. Done. And done.