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|| News Item: Posted 2005-05-30

Ode To Jube: 'Thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat, now is usually manipulated events.'
By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Deutsch / USA TODAY

University of North Carolina Tar Heels vs. University of Illinois Fighting Illini: Jawad Williams celebrates at the NCAA Final Four final at Edward Jones arena in St. Louis.
(Editor's note: Sports Shooter asked several photographers their take on jube photos, those images we made at the end of games that demanding editors go bonkers over but lately are more contrived, choreographed situations played for the TV cameras. What's it really like at the end of "the big game" and how did it get this way?)

Jube. Dej. Did you ever try to explain to someone outside out business what those words mean? Or how we can set 11 remotes and work our butts off to get great action and have the paper only use those 15 seconds of craziness after the game ends?

The trouble is, what used to be the best emotional, storytelling photos ... the "Thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat" now are usually manipulated events, difficult to shoot, or at worst impossible to cover without subjecting yourself to arrest (and no, I'm not going there).

Some background: In the case of the NCAA, we used to get a T-shirt per organization to be on the court for The Jube at the Final 4. Of course, if you are a "Court-Runner" (that universally despised photog who is up and planting a 14mm lens in front of the winning MVP to the total disregard of others), you are usually missing the best photos while you are running. And the rest of us, trying to actually record the real instant emotions from the floor, can't see anything but your fat butt. So no one really gets anything real.

John Biever and I were discussing this before the National Championship game a ways back (either '91 or '92) and we both agreed that if we all stayed put, we'd all get better photos. So we broached the idea to Dave Caywood, the media coordinator of the NCAA tourney at the time. We said we would all sit tight and not go on the floor IF he could guarantee that the court would stay clear of everyone else (save for the 2 CBS handhelds and cable pullers…no way to get them away).

We tried it and with the seconds winding down, Christian Laettner of Duke was standing on the court jumping up and down and making the best jube pics we could hope for. This worked great…and ever since, except for a few instances where the cheerleaders ran amok or the workers dragging the stage on the court blocked us, it has worked very well. Until this year.

For whatever reason, a slew of security guards blocked us, and a bunch of clueless reporters wandered on court and messed it all up. (Why security is so intent on "managing" us, who were quietly sitting and working to record the mess, instead of stopping the reporters who were wandering on the court, I'll never know). So 2005 goes down as a mess, and hopefully, the NCAA will learn from it and fix the problem. But I suspect that there will be more "Yellow Jackets" assigned to block us instead.

The deal worked so well with the NCAA that we made the same suggestion to the NBA for the Finals. Well, win one, lose one. All that we accomplished is to keep the newspaper and mag shooters off the floor while everyone, and I do mean everyone, else gets to work up close. Dozens of NBA photogs, TV, cable pullers, film crews, IMAX crews, families, friends, security, Spike Lee, anyone and everyone BUT those of us who really need to see those first few seconds. Now, if you are not overhead, you won't get anything. So we lost this one.

And add my vote to Bert's favorite rant: Why put those white T-shirts and hats on all the winning players seconds after the win? No one can tell who they are anymore; they all blend in together, making for terrible photos. Does this look better on TV? I doubt that. Let's let the players celebrate with their uniforms and school or team name still showing.

My vote would be to let players celebrate alone. No stills, no TV, no fans, just let the players enjoy the moment, and we can all see it from a distance without killing each other.

They deserve it.

(Bob Deutsch is a staff photographer with USA TODAY based in New York.)

Related Links:
Deutsch's member page

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