CHSAA, GWCs and 15 Yard Penalties

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

Everyone loves a good photo of their son or daughter from the big game. With the cost of professional level digital photography equipment dipping into consumer territory, its easier than ever to make that photo. Therein lies the problem.

Last Friday, I covered the first in state Columbine High School football game against Thomas Jefferson. In all the years I have covered high school football, I have only been asked to produce a credential a handful of times. Usually I would be asked at the front gate of the stadium and that would be it. However, this year was a surprise. A woman who I believe to be the athletics director for TJ, (my fault for not remembering her name) actually asked me for my press credentials while I was working on the sidelines.

I happily showed them my ID and business card (when she seemed to be unconvinced that I was actually working for a media outlet) and continued to shoot the game. No problem. That’s why we have credentials. As she walked the sidelines, she approached several other photographers and asked for credentials as well. They were parents of Columbine players and I knew that they did not have a current CHSAA Pass. They were asked to leave the TJ bench side of the field and return to the Columbine bench side. No problem, I thought.

When the TJ AD walked back towards me, I politely asked if there was a new policy. She said that (I’m paraphrasing here) there had been a problem with too many parents on the sidelines in the past and that CHSAA was starting to crack down on non credentialed people on the sidelines. Good job, CHSAA. She went on to explain that the most severe penalty for a non credentialed sideline violation was, at least for football, a 15 yard penalty and an automatic “hit the showers” for the head coach. (To be fair, I have been unable to confirm this policy. It appears to be up to the officials on the severity.)

Wow. That is a change from last year. I have seen a sideline penalty issued for players or coaches on the field before but have never seen one for non credentialed personnel. We will have to see if this changes the number of people I see on the sidelines this year. Somehow I doubt it. There just aren’t enough CHSAA personnel to check passes at every game. GWCs, you have been warned.

In case you are interested, the complete CHSAA Photography Policy is here (Warning PDF) along with the Media Credential Policy here (Warning PDF). The most pertinent parts of the photo rules are:

8. Passes may be revoked at any time for behavior deemed inappropriate for the
intended use of the pass, including use of a pass to gain admission to an event
that person is not working, cheering or cheerleading during an event, using the
pass to help others gain access to the event;

9. The CHSAA Office may request at any time proof of your outlets’ legitimacy
through required submission of tear sheets and/or broadcast tapes or other
demonstration of the outlets media standing;

10. NO Freelance photographers will be credentialed for “freelance” work. Freelance
photographers and stringers credentials must be requested by an outlet and that
outlet will be identified on that credential.

11. No “official” school photographers will be credentialed.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “I’m the team photographer” while working on the sidelines. NFL teams have team photographers. D1 colleges have photographers that work for the Athletics Department. High School’s do not have team photographers. Well, Okay, maybe Valor Christian does.

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