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|| News Item: Posted 2009-09-03

I Love Football
Sports Illustrated's Robert Beck grew up near the Rose Bowl.

By Robert Beck, Sports Illustrated

Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Robert Beck / Sports Illustrated

UCLA's Cade McNown doing his best Linda Blair/Exorcist imitation...throwing up in a huddle during the Bruins' overtime win against Oregon in 1998.
I grew up near the Rose Bowl and nothing says football to me more than college football on a crisp fall day. I love driving up there on a Saturday morning and seeing the San Gabriel Mountains so clear. Or tooling down to Eugene from Portland as the colors and old farmhouses whiz by. Tucson in October? You can see Brazil from there! I know. It can be hot as a Sun Devil.

By November you might have to row a boat from Portland to Corvallis. They don't call them Ducks and Beavers for no reason. But you still have stadiums full of real fans, from old ones to little ones with a healthy dose of those wonderful coeds thrown in.

Cheerleaders in sweaters? That's still cool. And sexy (except for those guys in sweaters). The language is still fairly clean too. I love the ancient Coliseum, the gorgeous Rose Bowl, and the still quaint Reser Stadium in Corvallis. Marching bands! The post-game activities say it all....

After an NFL game the fans want to fight. After a college tilt the kids just want to drink beer and fornicate. Wouldn't you still want to be in college? Yeah, me too.

Anyway, I'm shooting most games a little looser these days just to show the atmosphere. Don't get so wound up about whether you have a 600 or not. Try shooting a game with a 300, 70-200 and a 50 around your neck. You'd be surprised.

I always thought Paul Jasienski was one of the best football shooters out there. He traveled with just a Nikon 400mm f3.5, a sharp little beauty.

Go light. Go wide(r). Go college!

(Robert Beck is a Sports Illustrated staff photographer based in Southern California. He is a frequent contributor to Sports Shooter. You can see his work at his member page: and at his personal website:

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Rick says: "Stop Complaining!" ::..