The Expositor’s Mike Brock helps bring Olympics coverage to Canadians

TORONTO – The Tokyo Summer Olympic Games get underway this Friday, July 23 and The Expositor’s own Mike Brock will have a special hand in bringing Islanders some of that coverage through his role as a producer for CBC Sports.

This is Mr. Brock’s second Olympic Games. He was responsible for helping to bring us the Winter Olympics hockey coverage from South Korea in 2018 as well as the Paralympic Games that same year.

Mr. Brock has a background in broadcast and sports, so what better fit for an Olympic producer? He explains that he graduated with a BA in English from Western where he was also a member of the swim team. He went on to study at Ryerson University, broadcast journalism, then, 10 years later, completed a master’s degree from that same institution.

Following his first stint at Ryerson, Mr. Brock was lucky enough to grab a coveted spot on the team that brings you The National each night from CBC’s Toronto headquarters.

“I had a sports background, so I had a chance to write sports for the national newsroom,” he tells The Expositor.

He recalls his first-ever sports gig as a producer. He was assigned to cover a friendly cricket match in Toronto between India and Pakistan. Knowing nothing about cricket, he purchased a book and began reading it as the match was going on, trying to get a handle on the game. What should have been a relatively benign story soon turned into national news when one of the batsman jumped into the crowd and began wailing at opposing fans with his bat. Mr. Brock soon realized that one should never assume what the storyline will be ahead of time when covering sports. Some days it might be black and white, ‘X’ team won, while on other days, anything can happen. 

After The National, Mr. Brock went to work for Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, specifically as a producer for Leafs TV and, for the last few years, he’s been working as a freelancer for CBC Sports through his Urban Pig Productions company. (As of this spring, Mr. Brock also works as a contributor for The Expositor, as nearly half of his time is spent at the family cottage near Little Current.)

Mike Brock in the fall of 1984, wearing Sandy Goss’ Summer Olympics’ silver medal from the 4 x 100 medley relay. Mr. Goss was his idol. Eight years later, Mr. Brock got to spend the year with him, training for 1992 Olympic trials.

Mr. Brock is passionate about the Olympics, as many Olympics fans are. “The story of the games is not just about the big stars,” the producer explains, noting that this is especially true of CBC’s coverage, which showcases the games in their entirety, not just Canadian teams or athletes. Coverage south of the border has often been criticized by our American neighbours for being entirely USA-centric, completely different from the CBC’s mandate. “We aim to tell every single story, not just the highlights.”

“It’s really about the spectacle, learning about the cultures,” Mr. Brock continues, noting that a team has been working for the last 2.5 years on special features for the Tokyo Olympics.

Mr. Brock doesn’t get to go to Tokyo; all his work is done from a studio at CBC in downtown Toronto. For two weeks he will be holed up in an editing suite with an editor and associate director. He has been specifically assigned to field hockey, beach volleyball, the new rugby 7s event and taekwondo (which he admitted he is reading up on now).

As there’s a 13-hour time difference between here and Tokyo, Mr. Brock has been trying to get his internal clock organized for those two weeks by staying up all night. He’s been enjoying late night strolls at the cottage, reading good books and learning about taekwondo. 

His day will start at about 5:30 pm each day of the Olympics and will end by 8 or 9 the next morning. Because of COVID-19 protocols, the production team will not leave the building much with catering being brought in to keep them well fed and awake with strong coffee. “We’re very well looked after.”

While the days are long and tiring, to be part of the experience “is 100 percent worth it.”

Mr. Brock says the two weeks are a lot of fun with producers converging on the building from across the nation, often each with their own sports specialities.

The Olympics has always been an important part of Mr. Brock’s life. His father, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bob Brock, familiar to many Islanders, was a Team Canada physician for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The younger Mr. Brock attended the Team Canada Olympic trials in 1992 for swimming. “I’ve always loved the Olympics. The seed was planted early.”

The opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics get underway at 7 am this Friday, July 23.