A couple of months ago a Colorado photographer/sports reporter was taking notes at a football game and got crushed by 2 players as they were falling out of bounds. He suffered serious injuries that may keep him from being able to walk or at least walk unassisted for the rest of his life (the photo above is not him, its explained below). It happens when you let your guard down an has probably happened on more occasions with lesser consequences. “Knock on wood,” it has never happened to me. I have come very close several times including while I was shooting at a 76ers game in Philly. NBA players are a lot bigger and heavier in person than they look on TV. I saw this at a game I was covering last week.
The photo above is of one of the most DANGEROUS things that I have ever seen on the sidelines. I’m used to the parents and various other people that usually don’t get in my way. The message boards of sports shooting photographers are constantly filled with posts questioning the necessity of the hoards of people on the sidelines at games. I usually look at them and take it with a grain of salt. This was truly disturbing. How was he supposed to jump out of the way of incoming players? How fast could he push himself out of the way? What kind of damage would that device do to a player that hits it? To make matters worse, the photographers backpack held AN OXYGEN TANK!
I purposely chose the image above to hide his identity and I am not going to tell you what game it was at. Its things like this that make me question the credentialing organizations for high school sports sometimes. The photographer was wearing no identification and no one in the press box seemed to know who he was. I applaud his willingness to do his job, however I question his ability to understand the dangers of being on the sidelines.
At the beginning of the year, the credentialing organization for high school sports (I’m being fairly vague here because they tend to have a short fuse) specifically mentioned that NO TEAM PHOTOGRAPHERS or FREELANCERS will be given a pass to the games unless they can prove they are working for a wire service, yearbook or paper. Its situations like this that make me wish some one from that organization be at the games to supervise a little more closely.
In the end no one was hurt and the photographer didn’t have to jump out of the way from any oncoming players but I think he needs to use a little common sense. When I am sick or can’t walk under my own power, I stay home because I care about my safety and my subjects safety.