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|| News Item: Posted 2005-05-31

Ode To Jube: 'It's not about money, it's about a ring you can show off to your girlfriend.'
By Toni Sandys, Washington Post

Photo by Toni L Sandys / St. Petersburg Times

Photo by Toni L Sandys / St. Petersburg Times

Super Bowl XXXV - Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Giants - Raymond James Stadium, Sunday, January 28, 2001. Ravens head coach Brian Billick holds up the Lombardi trophy as the ticker tape falls during the post-game celebration.
(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?)

There's a reason why one of my favorite things to cover is high school sports championships. The emotion and energy surrounding the whole event is so real and pure. These kids are playing the game - possibly the last they will ever play - because they enjoy the sport of it. It's not about money, it's about a ring you can show off to your girlfriend. Those kids play those championship games with an intensity equal to the Super Bowl...but without all the hype. That's why they are so refreshing.

First, no offense to anyone, but there are fewer of us. No end of the game scrum to anticipate. In fact, I usually find photographers are nicer to each other when we work in small groups. (Something you learn with preschoolers.) With only five photographers on the field, everyone seems to be more mindful of each other's position. Not that we don't get in each other's way, but when asked will most likely step aside if we can.

No one wants to singled out as "that other guy in everyone's photo". The smaller group forces it to be more personal. It's a lot easier to push and shove when you are one of fifty and you don't really know they guy next to you.

Professional championship ceremonies have gone over the top for me. There's really nothing more boring than the picture of the MVP holding the Lombardi trophy over his head with confetti streaming down. Yes, I've shot it. And in that situation I think we all have to, only so you don't risk having an editor ask for it and you not have it.

Beyond what I think are those "necessary" pictures, I don't give in to the scripting of the NFL and the networks and try to stay away from the podium as much as possible. While there are good pictures to be taken, they often feel phony to me later. I don't think I would ever include a picture from a championship ceremony in my portfolio. Unless it didn't involve the actual ceremony. I'm convinced there has to be something more exciting going on somewhere else on the field.

Photo by Toni L. Sandys / The Washington Post

Photo by Toni L. Sandys / The Washington Post

Potomac senior Andrew Azodeh, center, is joined by his teammates Justin Kareem (12), Brandon Jackson (55), Daryl Davis (6) and Christian Newsome (42) as they celebrate after winning the Maryland Class 2A championship game.
Of course, I have to be careful who I photograph. It had better be a player I can recognize, because half the team has taken off their jerseys and put on championship T-shirts. It seems to me they just used to pass out hats on the field, which still felt phony and scripted with the players all prancing around shoving there foreheads into tv cameras.

But at least you could still give the right players credit for their antics. My pet peeve is not with the T-shirts however. It's when a local newspaper prints a special edition and passes it out to everyone on the field and in the stands. Now in every one of your photos you have idiots waving these newspapers. Even when it's your own newspaper, it's hard to stomach. I'm not much for giving anyone free advertising (which is a whole other issue) let alone a newspaper at an event they are still in the process of covering.

The unfortunate thing is that it won't be changing any time soon. John Q. Public eats it up and watches those post game celebrations into the early morning. In fact, I think they are bound to just continue until they are way over the top. By then we will all be penned into one little corner of the field they are not using for the network presentation.

High school lacrosse championships here I come!

Maybe I'll see you there, but I hope not.

(Toni Sandys is a staff photographer with the Washington Post.)

Related Links:
Sandys' member page

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