The Challenge of Photographing Sports

Last night (Sunday, October 30, 2010) I had the privilege of watching and photographing one of the most exciting football games I can remember.  It was the 8th Grade Junior Tackle Championship game featuring the underdog “Dawgs” from Sandpoint and the highly favored, undefeated for 4 seasons, Shadle Steelers.

One of the things that immediately stood out to me was the fact that this Steeler team was a passing team.  I could count on one or maybe two hands how many times they handed the ball off to a running back and as I watched the Quarterback it was obvious that he was a talented player and that the Dawgs were going to have their hands full.  Nonetheless, the rain falling from the sky in combination with the tenacious defense that Sandpoint brought to the Dwight Merckel Sports Complex was more than the Steelers could handle.  As Steve Russo, the Sandpoint head coach, announced to the team after the game “Defense wins championships”, a statement true in the NFL and in 8th Grade Junior Tackle!

This evening when I sat down to start working on the photos I jumped ahead to the photos from the end of the game, there was one play in particular that I wanted find.  I needed to know, did I get a good shot of the pivotal play, the play that opened up the door for the victory.  The play was an interception by Tyler Harris that was returned for a touchdown.  This touchdown provided the opportunity for Jeff Kappen to kick the winning 2 point kick.   Yes, that is right I said winning 2 point kick, in YMCS Junior Tackle the kick after a touchdown is worth 2 and what we normally call a 2 point conversion is only worth 1.

I titled this post “The Challenges of Photographing Sports” and to this point you might still be scratching your head wondering why I titled it that way since thus far it has been a report on the game, but it was when I looked at the series of photos from this play that this post and the title came to mind.  As I surveyed the series of photos I felt a mix of gladness and sadness.  I experienced gladness that I was able to get a few decent shots of the play.  Then the sadness,  due to a few different variables that were out of my hands I missed out on the best shots.  Sorry Tyler, but to be totally honest if I did not admit it I would be the only one that knew!

The following sequence of photos shows how the play went down and I think that the photos, as well as my brief comments, will show you why this is titled as it is.

All good so far, a decent shot of the Shadle QB making his throw.

Now here is “The Shot”, there is Tyler with the ball just coming into his posession . . . . . but unfortunately, number 11 Tanner Jacobson happens to be the player in focus.  You know, I think maybe instead of calling this one a missed shot I am going to claim “Artistic License”, because in my interpretation Tyler in the distance out of focus with Tanner in the foreground in focus adds to the drama of the photo . . .  Ok, I am convinced!  By the way, nice catch Tyler!

Tyler Emerges with the ball . . . . .  he, could . . . .

go . . . . all . . . .  the . . . .

oh no, the referee!

Oh no, it’s Tanner again!  Glad your happy Tanner, but could you move a little to the left?

And now it is the Field Monitor’s turn!  (note: all of the games have a field monitor, the YMCA claims that their role is to make sure that their special rules are adhered to, but I know the truth that their real job description is to watch for the key plays of the game and make sure that they stand in between that play and the photographer!)

And the post touchdown celebration!  Great game Dawgs, way to play hard all the way to the end.

And now, As a final note, a shout out to the coaches of all the Sandpoint Junior Tackle teams!  I was on the sidelines with you for a number of games and I was often very blessed to see how you interacted with the kids.  So often in football emotions can get intense but it was great to see how you fired up the team and when they made mistakes you coached and instructed instead of yelling and making a kid that was already disappointed in his play feel even worse!

1 reply
  1. John
    John says:

    That was one awesome game. That quarterback for the steelers is Mark Rypien’s (superbowl MVP) nephew. (Brett Rypien) Sandpoint was phenomenal in shutting him down. Something apparently no one has been able to do in 4 years. Good job Sandpoint!

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