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Bruce Schwartzman, Photographer
BALTIMORE | MD | | Posted: 9:30 AM on 09.09.09
->> A sad story about how dangerous it can be on football sidelines ...
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Jeff Brehm, Photographer, Photo Editor
Charlotte | NC | USA | Posted: 9:33 AM on 09.09.09
->> (I'm vulturing this thread to see if it re-ignites several previous ones....)
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Patrick Meredith, Photographer, Assistant
Austin | TX | USA | Posted: 10:53 AM on 09.09.09
->> That is too bad. My old editor's husband had his leg broken while shooting a high school game in 2000. If you search the SS archives, you can read tons of stories about photogs getting run over. is a pretty amazing story...
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 12:18 PM on 09.09.09
->> Definitely sad. But to be honest, I'm much more nervous when I'm shooting HS baseball than football. I find dodging 230 lb defenders easier than a 5 oz baseball at 100mph.
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Luke Sharrett, Student/Intern
Forest | VA | United States | Posted: 12:47 PM on 09.09.09
->> "Coverning" a "gam" eh? Prayers for Mr. Engen's speedy recovery.
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 1:58 PM on 09.09.09
->> I agree with John on both counts. Certainly never news you like to hear, but, at least with football you typically know whats coming at you and can position yourself as needed to negate those risk. I'll admit I get out of the way far too early most of the time. Instead of sitting cross legged in the back on the endzone I'm on my feet ready to move if I have to. Sometimes I kick myself after the play but if I see a receiver heading for the back of the endzone where I'm at 9 times out of 10 I'm getting out of the way instead of shooting. Of course the guy who holds his ground might end up with a great shot, but he also might have 2 large men land on him/run right through him. I've seen some tv camera guys in particular just get smashed in that situation but they did get the shot right up to that moment.

Getting closer almost always makes a better photo but it also puts you in a situation where you have a greater risk for getting hurt, especially if your not paying attention, or don't realize that a player getting knocked out of bounds is not going to instantly stop on a dime.

Thats one of the real dangers of the HS game in my opinion, the lack of any buffer space around the field. Obviously its annoying at a NFL or NCAA game having field marshals yell if your toe is across the line, but, that space does keep people, players and media both safer.

At high school games I shoot its just never enforced and all the parents, media etc stand right there at the edge of the field. Also making things a bit more dangerous is at the HS level you see more people shooting with just a 70-200 or even shorter and as such, they feel they need to really be right at the line of scrimmage to get close enough.

Player comes running around on a sweep toeing that sideline as a linebacker and safety make a tackle knocking him out of bounds and you've got 3 bodies coming at you very fast. That kid that got hit is going to keep running another 10 yards easy before he can stop himself and often isn't looking out for who's on the sidelines because he expects people to get out of his way, not the other way around.

No photo is worth getting injured for. Usually that last frame I take before I move is OOF anyways.
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Brad Mills, Photographer
Falls Church | VA | USA | Posted: 2:27 PM on 09.09.09
->> In response to John about covering baseball. It is now a rule that base coaches wear helmets when in the field at most levels of the game. Doing the same in the exposed photo pits would seem to make sense to me.

I used to cover college hockey 20+ years ago and was allowed to sit on the bench or in the penalty box when there was no glass there. I would borrow a helmet from the team to use during the game since your field of vision is so small when looking through a camera.

I think too many photographers (and people in general) have the "it won't happen to me mentality".
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 2:45 PM on 09.09.09
->> Several years ago I was packing up gear at a rink just as the team on the ice was ending their practice. I heard a slapshot and next thing I knew I was being thrown to the ground. I had been on the ramp leading to the lockers.

It took a few minutes to get my bearings and to realize what had happened. No one had pushed me. Instead I had been nailed by that frozen puck squarely on the shoulder. The force was tremendous. Two inches higher and I would have had my neck snapped.

Stuff like this happens at all levels and at all events. The idea that high school, or youth, sports are 'safer' because the games are played by 'kids' is a funeral waiting to happen. I hope all goes well for the photographer in the story and that anyone reading that or this and thinking that they are 'safer' at a youth or prep level game will think again and keep safety in mind.
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Ethan Magoc, Student/Intern
Erie | PA | United States | Posted: 2:49 PM on 09.09.09

...Which is why it's also never safe to stand three feet from the end zone with a Rebel plus 18-200 on a tripod.

Joking aside, the player in the above photo slid headfirst into that steel fence after having to dodge the woman (who was not credentialed for any media outlet) standing there watching the play. And this wasn't even at a DI game.

Sidelines are all too crowded and dangerous these days, no matter the level.

Hopefully the Valley Courier's editor makes a full recovery. The last few lines of that story are pretty sad too--small weeklies are so understaffed.
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Tim Vizer, Photographer, Photo Editor
Belleville | IL | USA | Posted: 3:16 PM on 09.09.09
->> About 25 years ago the chief photographer at the paper where I was working turned to shoot the coach yelling at the players, taking his eye from the field -- he didn't see the play coming right at him. At least three players crushed him to the ground, but in the process they snapped his knee bone (patella) and when surgeons opened up the area in the hospital, his bone fragments fell out like somebody had ground up bits of chalk. Wires, screws, bolts and plates put him back together, but he was never the same. He eventually made it (months later) back to work, but walks with a limp and limited mobility and flexibility in his leg - forever.
Sorry to be so graphic, but never take your eye off the play and always have wiggle room and an escape route.
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Willis Glassgow, Photo Editor, Photographer
Florence | SC | USA | Posted: 12:00 PM on 09.16.09
->> Hate to be the guy that comes up with the negative here, but while I feel REALLY bad for this guy. He was a SPORTS EDITOR, not a professional photographer. While I know that pro sports photogs get hit and will get hit in the future, this is just one more reason NOT to allow non-professional photographers on the sidelines of football games. While he was VERY seriously hurt, he could've actually been killed. We as a group must convince media relations folks that this is a major problem and could end up with a more serious situation. Any thoughts?

Willis Glassgow
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 12:23 PM on 09.16.09
->> Willis,

I'm seriously not buying this as an argument to keep people off the sidelines. It implies that sports photographers are somehow better equiped to handle the dangers. Really, it is a rarity and is all about not paying attention. Seriously, I'm guessing more baseball fans are hit by balls and bats than people are run over on sidelines. You can't police people for being ignorant (and dont flame me for saying ignorant - if you're going to stand by a field where 200lb young men are flying around and you're not paying attention then you're being ignorant of your surroundings). So back to baseball - if protecting people is the real goal vs. just trying to protect access for photographers shouldn't we also put up protective netting or similar at all MLB ballparks to protect people?

I'm sorry, but to me this reads like you'd be trying to use this excuse to protect access - and remember, this is a HS football field this occured on. I really don't see HS fields limiting access to the team and professional photographers. And I say that as someone who shoots HS football for the media.

This is just my opinion, feel free to disagree.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 1:55 PM on 09.16.09
->> "...... where 200lb young men are flying around"

Most punters and kickers walk off the field at the end of play. No danger of injury to anyone on the sidelines from them.
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Dave Doonan, Photographer
Kingston | TN | USA | Posted: 2:58 PM on 09.16.09
->> our sports editor also shoots sometimes we don't have the luxury of both positions at a small paper.
does that mean HE shouldn't be there?
sports photogs are extremely vulnerable to injury, we know this when we sign on to do our job
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Joe Boyd, Photographer
Huntsville | AL | USA | Posted: 3:04 PM on 09.16.09
->> Willis,

I can understand where you're coming from, but your argument would be fatally-flawed to use Lloyd Engen as an example of inexperienced people injured on the sidelines. If anything, this story points out that sideline injuries can happen even to the most experienced.

While Lloyd was technically a sports editor, according to the article, he spent more time writing and photographing from the sidelines than most PJs, or writers. The following is a quote from a Eric Flores, a 20-something part-time stringer working for Lloyd Engen.

"The day before he was injured, Lloyd covered four games. He made it a point to get to 10 or 15 every week. He worked 14 hours most days, 19 on some and all seven days plenty of weeks. Right now," Flores said, exhaling, "I'm trying to figure out how I can do half of what Lloyd did."

The article also states that Lloyd had covered hundreds of football, basketball, volleyball, golf, gymnastics, etc. games over a 12 year period as the sports editor for the Valley Courier.

I certainly can't say what the circumstances of his injury were, and it's possible that his attention was not on the play. But if Lloyd Engen couldn't be credentialled due to a lack of sideline experience, a vast majority of Sportsshooter members couldn't either.

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Willis Glassgow, Photo Editor, Photographer
Florence | SC | USA | Posted: 1:53 PM on 09.22.09
->> Hey folks....I love stirring up the pot a little to get the conversation going.....I agree with you on many points you have made. Dave also made a good point of that this was a high school game and should we keep folks off the sideline of these games? I agree with Dave here. We should not keep folks off the sidelines for a high school game. But, the point I was trying to make here is this, since I shoot almost exclusively college sports, I see every week, a guy or girl that is standing on sideline or courtside that are a danger to themselves and the others around them, including players.

Let's say hypothetically, an inexperienced amateur photographer gets hit on the sideline at a major college football game while "covering" the game. Let's say this person has major head trauma and this person later dies. A very tragic scene for all. Let's say then, that his family sues the school, the NCAA, and the conference.... and wins. (A very distinct possibility) What do you think will happen to to the sideline then?.....What do you think the backlash will be?...He was a photographer....right?....It doesn't matter if he was an amateur or not. We will be all lumped together in this situation, professionals and amateurs alike.

Last year after a college football player was seriously injured by a band cart in the end zone. Because of that incident, the NCAA ruled that all photographers now had to be back 6 feet from the basketball baseline. What?????....How could a football injury involving a band cart have anything to do with photographers at a basketball game?...Well, to the NCAA, it had a lot to do with each other. If the hypothetical situation that I described above actually happened, what would happen to the football sideline? and what would happen to pro sports photographers trying to cover these games? Both the wire services and newspapers have very little clout these days to stand up for all photographers. It is a very good chance that all sports photogs would have to stand another several yards back to cover the game, making it virtually impossible to get good images at any game. Our job is difficult enough...don't you think?

Folks, my opinion here is NOT to put anyone down or to put people in their place. Far from it. I state my opinion only to protect the sports photography industry as a whole. That's all. We all agree that the sidelines are overcrowded with people that do not need to be there. Both by fans and media types that are a danger to the professionals around them. Then it is our duty as professionals to make sure that our profession is protected by all of us and work together with the powers at be to make sure that all people are safe while attending a sporting event.
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John Germ, Photographer
Wadsworth | Oh | USA | Posted: 2:17 PM on 09.22.09
->> Willis,

Don't the credentials for the schools you cover come with a waiver of liability - i.e. if you get hurt it aint the school or NCAA's fault?

That would surpise me since most tickets in the stands carry that type of liability.
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Max Lashin, Photographer, Assistant
Fort Lauderdale | FL | United States | Posted: 2:56 PM on 09.22.09
->> John,

disclosure: I am not a lawyer...

but I'm pretty sure there are many ways around those waivers and even if the waiver stands most (schools, companies, conferences, etc) would probably settle out of court to avoid any actual case and in turn that settlement could equal big money.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 5:44 PM on 09.22.09
->> Six feet from the baseline? Huh? That ain't gonna happen at the majority of the ACC schools I've been to...if it does there won't be any photographers. I hope Lloyd makes a fast, complete recovery. I feel very fortunate that I've never been seriously hurt when 200+ pound basketball players have landed on me. That said, I watch football very carefully when covering it and pay extra close attention when the ball is in play because there is a completely different dynamic to that game than any other. Only got a glancing blow from a high school kid 20 years ago and I think it hurt him more than me..but I was young and spry at the time. But come on, this is one of the occupational hazards of our jobs.
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William Purnell, Photographer
Wichita | Ks | | Posted: 5:53 PM on 09.22.09
->> Personally I just feel like its an occupational hazard, I've had a few close calls, and quite frankly I'm more worried at baseball and basketball than I've ever been at football.

Basketball sidelines are often more crowded in my experience and offer much less "escape" room than any football sideline I've ever been on. I always try to be aware of who's around me, and which way I have an "escape" path in case its needed when I shoot.

And when you talk about those "amature" photographers like the lady with the monopod and "rebel", I've seen many, many credentialed "media" photographers much along those same lines. I dont think it makes a difference at all, bottom line is IF you have a purpose to be on the sidelines at an event its on you to pay attention to your surroundings. Just my opinion.
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Jeff Martin, Photographer
wellington | OH | usa | Posted: 8:29 PM on 09.22.09
->> " while "covering" the game. Let's say this person has major head trauma and this person later dies. A very tragic scene for all. Let's say then, that his family sues the school, the NCAA, and the conference.... and wins."

Wouldn't this be a comment (a negative one) one our tort system. Really, stand on the side line, you take your chances. Who promised you safe conduct for what ever you wanted to do.
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Rob Dicker, Photographer
Lake Villa | IL | USA | Posted: 8:48 PM on 09.22.09
->> The odds are stacked against us as are they for anyone else on the sidelines. I for one have been hit in every sport that I can think of - from the pros on down.
But we are not alone. I recall about 10 years ago, the head coach of a high school team in the area was clipped on the sidelines and tore his ACL. He was out a week or two and then back on the sidelines coaching for the rest of the season - what a trooper.
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Rob Dicker, Photographer
Lake Villa | IL | USA | Posted: 8:53 PM on 09.22.09
->> Oh one other thing. Here in Illinois, some of the referees have been enforcing the rule that photographers and all others must be behind the dotted line that surrounds the field. If nothing else, always know your escape route.
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Diana Porter, Photographer
Houston | TX | USA | Posted: 10:51 AM on 09.23.09
->> I don't get hit by players as much as being hit by the ball. I sustained a bad eye injury at an arena football game where the quarterback threw as hard as he could from 10 yards away and hit my 70-200 lens right in the middle. The impact shoved the camera into my face making large cuts on my forehead,nose, and below my eye and lascerating my cornea.

At another game I was behind the endzone at the East East Shrine game. The quarterback threw the ball to the receiver who missed it and it beaned me right in the left eye this time. Couldn't see it because the ball was thrown above my line of sight. Luckily an ESPN cameraman was right there to capture the whole thing, adding insult to injury.
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Thread Started By: Bruce Schwartzman
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