The humanity of Carlos Matallanas who fights ALS by covering sports with joy in his heart.

  • March 07, 2020
Carlos Matallanas’s article ‘A letter to Rafa Nadal’ placed second in the Best Column category at the AIPS Sport Media Awards 2019

AIPS Media

LAUSANNE, March 7, 2019 - Immediately after Rafa Nadal won his record-extending 12th French Open title in June 2019, Carlos Matallanas began to prepare an article for his column in the newspaper AS. But according to him, nothing he wrote seemed original; “we have already said all the compliments that exist to describe Nadal's career,” he states. It was then he decided to write about what that victory meant to him personally, even though he felt a bit shy talking about his private life. Matallanas asked for the opinion of the newspaper director, who then gave his consent. In the column, which is written as a letter, Matallanas speaks directly to Nadal expressing the great feelings that overwhelm him whenever he watches the best Spanish athlete in history play. Matallanas, who is suffering from a very serious illness, ALS, also discloses how Nadal helps him in his fight against adversity.

The article placed second in the Best Column category at the AIPS Sport Media Awards 2019 but Carlos could’t attend the gala in Budapest due to his health situation. His brother, Javier, a sport journalist himself, director of AS Tv, represented him on the stage: “My brother can’t be here - he is suffering from ALS, but he wanted to thank all the members of the jury, expressing that they keep on with this initiative with enthusiasm. He dedicates this prize to Rafa Nadal, a resource of many wonderful articles and also to our father who’s now fighting against cancer - of course we, as brothers, want to wish him all the possible luck.”

During the ceremony the audience received a moving and encouraging video from Carlos Matallas who wanted to tell more about the piece that brought him to the final.
A touching video message from Carlos Matallanas showing on the big screen during the AIPS Sport Media Awards ceremony in Budapest. (Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS Media)

The article ‘A letter to Rafa Nadal’ has a very specific origin: in June 2019 Rafa Nadal won his twelfth Roland Garros. Immediately after the final, I started preparing the text for my column in the newspaper AS.

Nothing I wrote seemed original.

We have already praised Rafa’s career in every way possible. So, it occurred to me to talk about what the victory mean to me…and what he meant as the greatest Spanish athlete in history. I was a little bit embarrassed to be talking about my private life in relation to a sporting legend.

In fact, I asked the edithor of the newspaer to give me his approval. He thought it was a good idea, and that’s how the article came to be published. It’s written as a letter in which I speak directly to Nada.

I explain the strong feelings I get watching him play. And I tell him I’ms suffering from a very serious illness, ALS, and how he helps me in my fight against adversity. It’s the same illness Stephen Hawking had. And I’m now in the same advanced phase we all remember the British scientist being in.

I was a semi-professional footballer until the ALS appeared. And my work as a journalist has alway been highly influenced by my condition of being a sportsman.

As I say in the article, sport is culture. And sport is education. And I think that the important values sport gives society should be communicated by the specialised press. We shouldn’t limit ourselves to treating sport as entertainment or as a spectacle for the masses. Because it is so much more than that.

These awards, I think, are a great opportunity to extol the values of sport and for journalism to help reflect upon them: and to help these values reach the most remote corners of the planet.

Nothing more. Congratulations to the finalists and may this initiative last for many years.

Javier Matallanas, director of AS Tv and brother to Carlos, gives a speech during the AIPS Sport Media Awards ceremony in Budapest. (Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS Media)

And after being moved listening to this extraordinay human being who is fighting this illness with the joy of his profession, AIPS decided to know a little more about Carlos Matallanas.

- What impact did you have when you were nominated finalist of the AIPS Sport Media Awards?
- It was a recognition that made me very happy on a professional and personal level. The awards still do not have the kind of effect they deserve for their quality and importance in journalism, that's why there has been little talk about my nomination, but there are still few editions. Surely in a while it will be valued more to belong to the AIPS Sport Media Awards winners archive.

- What did you think of the ceremony from home, could you follow it?
- Yes, I followed it on Facebook. The place was impressive. And the ceremony was dynamic. It was exciting when my category arrived…
- When and why did you decide to be a sports journalist?
- I was a semi-professional footballer and I combined it with journalism studies, and then I started working while still playing football, and the natural thing for me was to do it in the sports section.
- And tennis, when did you become interested?
- I am a football specialist. I have covered tennis sporadically. Especially Nadal's career.
- What do you think is important to convey to young generations about this profession?
- I believe that the work of filtering and ordering of information will always be fundamental for this job. The rigor, honesty or care of language will be virtues for future journalists as they were a hundred years ago. Technology, society and our profession can change completely, but the values of the good journalist will remain the same. And we will always be necessary.
- What do you think of the idea of AIPS to create an event like the AIPS Sport Media Awards and what impact can it have on the sports media industry?
- I think it's a great idea and I think that its prestige will grow year by year. The media will want their journalists to be nominated. And for professionals it will be increasingly prestigious.

To view all winners of the AIPS Sport Media Awards’ second edition, please click here.


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