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|| News Item: Posted 2000-07-28

Leading Off: Move Your Ass!
By Robert Hanashiro

Photo by Eric Risberg/AP

Photo by Eric Risberg/AP
It's the reason we love to listen to baseball on the radio. The announcer's words and your imagination creating the pictures in your mind.

I was driving home a few weeks back after covering the A's-Angels game at "The Ed" and caught the final two innings of the Giants' game against their arch rivals, the LA Dodgers.

After nearly punching a hole in my dash after wild pitches by Felix Rodriguez and closer Robb Nen allowed the game to be tied going to the bottom of the 9th, what followed is what all of us pray to shoot at least once in our careers.

In dramatic fashion, the Giants' Marvin Benard smashed a game-winning homer out of PacBell Park sending 40, 000 fans screaming with joy. In a scene usually reserved for the Playoffs or World Series, the bench cleared and Benard was lifted into the air by teammates and carried off the field.

I could see it all in my mind's eye as I was tooling down Interstate 5 toward home. I just couldn't wait to fire up the Mac and check out the AP report via Yahoo.

When I got online, I noticed the byline on the first images filed and it was my good friend, Eric Risberg. I thought, "this will be really good!"

When I finally got to the image I had captured in my mind's eye Benard on the shoulders of Barry Bonds or maybe Jeff Kent I was SHOCKED at what I saw on my screen: Benard being lifted in the air and a network TV camera-pointer smack in the middle of the frame, blocking out several players from view!!!

It was the shits!

A memorable moment possibly a season-turning one for a team that was in the middle of a 12 of 14 win streak ruined by the ASS of an irresponsible, selfish network TV camera-pointer.

I've never been one of those photographers who love to shove an 18mm lens in the face of a subject, but even this was too much.

The arrogance of television, as evidenced by Fox and ESPN's "in your face" attitude while covering events, is probably the biggest obstacle sports shooters face these days while simply trying to do their job.

Just staying back a few feet (for God's sake, the zoom on those TV cameras can pick up a pimple on a batters' face from centerfield!) gives us all a clean look at a play or celebration and also does not intrude on the fans' enjoyment of the moment.

And for that matter, the athlete's too.

I'm sure Marvin Benard loved having that ESPN camera 12 inches from his face as he jumped into the arms of his excited teammates.

But in this day and age of voyeuristic TV ("reality" shows like "Survivor" and "Big Brother" have taken network television to a new low), it's a natural extension for their sports coverage to get closer and closer to the action.

At the recent U.S. Olympic Track and Field team Trails in Sacramento, NBC handheld cameras crept into the "no-go zone" repeatedly blocking the view of 99.9% of the photographers and the paying fans in the stands.

During the closing minute of the Lakers' win over the Pacers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, an NBC crew was actually on the court while play was going on trying to stick a lens 2 inches from Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal's nose.

I'm waiting for the time in the near future when Mark McGuire breaks Hank Aaron's career home run record and instead of two fans running along side him as he touches the bases it'll be a microwave TV camera-pointer and boom mike operator instead!

What can we do? Eric Risberg wrote letters to the Giants and MLB registering his complaints on the situation. But what's needed is to harass the TV networks, for they hold the true power in sports.

Yelling at the TV camera-pointer (or even worse, the "dish" holder) does no good. For they are just drones, listening to the commands of the ultimate "couch potato" called The Director.

Having the teams, your sports editors and journalism organizations complain to the networks is a start. Also getting your TV critic or sports columnists to write about occurrences like the Benard incident would level some public criticism on the networks.

Will any of this work?

I doubt it. But we can still bitch.

After all, we're photographers!

* * *

Continuing Sports Shooter's trend of giving our readers interesting and off beat looks at sports, v.22 features a fascinating look at bullfighting by Jim McNay. Paul Morse from the LA Times writes about returning to shooting film and Robert Seale of the Sporting News gives us an inside look at the Astros' new home. We also have our regular installments from The Count, Sam Mircovich and Mongo.

So sit back, relax, adjust the brightness of that monitor, turn down Jesse and the Raindogs mp3 and enjoy Sports Shooter v.22!

(Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter.)

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