As the hockey puck bounced off my skull – producing a sort of dull, hollow ring – I came to an epiphany.
In the interest of safety and the preservation of very expensive camera equipment, sports reporters/photographers – even the small town variety trying to get a killer shot of a high school hockey game – need to keep their distance from the action they cover.
It was a lesson I would soon forget.
A couple of months later, at a Mariner basketball game, there I was – snapping away crisp action shots from the safety of the bleachers with my trusty 300-millimeter zoom lens. Although I was getting some pretty awesome stuff, I couldn’t help but wonder how much awesomer my photos would be if taken from directly underneath the basket.
Nobody seemed to notice as I slinked along the baseline, slowly crawling into a position about four or five feet behind the backboard. One of the referees gave me a sort of, “What-the-hell-are-you-doing-here?” look, but I shot him back an intense, “Hey-I’m-a-reporter-and-can-do-what-I-want” stare.
Soon I was taking phenomenal, low-angle, in-your-face shots of blocks, lay-ups and intense interior defense with all the crazy facial expressions that go along with basketball played that close to the rim.
It was fantastic. I was feeling like part of the action. And then – WHAM!
My trusty 300-millimeter zoom lens had taken a knee from an out-of-control, out-of-bounds player and my camera – a new and very expensive Canon D-SLR – went flying out of my hands. Luckily, I had the neck strap attached, so the camera didn’t go skittering across the basketball court. And apparently, my trusty 300-millimeter zoom lens was tough enough to absorb the blow.
Nonetheless, it was a close call, and it really made me think about the unnecessary risks I was taking while trying to get close to the game.
Still, a good sports reporter/photographer always wants to be right there in the middle of the action. That is, after all, how you get the most amazing sports photographs and the most feel-like-you-were-there sports stories.
Which brings me to my apology to Ashley Ketelle.
I’m sorry, Ashley, that shooting pictures from the bleachers of your volleyball game against Colony the other night wasn’t good enough for me.
I’m sorry I had the misguided idea that it would be totally awesome to sit on my butt right at the edge of the court – on your side of the net, no less – and take low-angle, in-your-face shots of all the amazing digs, passes and shots you and your teammates were dishing out.
I’m sorry that an errant, deflected ball came straight for my head and I’m even sorrier that my reaction time – about that of a banana slug on Valium – was way too slow for me to get out of your way as you bravely attempted a dive to put the ball back in play.
I’m sorry I sat there, basically motionless and paralyzed with fear, while your knee – at least I think it was your knee – hit my shoulder and you went tumbling to the ground.
I’m glad you were OK, Ashley.
And I’m glad the sympathetic ref gave your team a do-over.
Still – I’m sorry I’m an idiot.
Maybe someday I’ll learn.
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