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|| News Item: Posted 2001-02-26

Coping With the Madness
By Porter Binks, Sports Illustrated

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With March upon us, it's time to think about the NCAA Tournament, especially if your team is going to be in the bracket. So if you're a veteran of covering March Madness or going for the first time, here are some reminders that may help:

When you file credentials for the tourney, remember to ask for a photo compound credential for your picture editor, if you're lucky enough to take one. It won't allow shooting access, but you'll be sure to have the help you need editing and transmitting.

Don't bother asking for messenger credentials. AP is designated to handle the shipping of all disks/film from floor to work areas. Reuters is allowed three messenger creds, but AP gets the larger allotment (seven) since they usually have more members working with them.

In meetings with the NCAA, we've tried to stress that setting aside work areas for photographers just as the writers have is much needed. The NCAA said it reiterated that this summer with all the tourney media co-coordinators. Some arenas can accommodate this better than others. If you're a picture editor in a host city, it might be a good idea to contact the media co-coordinator to see if such space is available and how you might help in arranging it.

You are responsible for ordering the phone lines, using the information provided in your credential packet by the NCAA.

All strobes are in a pool situation. Three sets are allowed (Sports Illustrated, AP/USA TODAY and a newspaper pool set). I beg you not to think you can walk in and install or plug into the lights you've used all season. Please be in touch with me ( or 212/522.3325) about using pool strobes, especially those in cites where you are hosting the tourney. This is my third suchrequest in Sports Shooter and so far, two publications have called (AP/Kansas City and Sporting News).

In some situations, especially for newspapers in host cities, you can be authorized to provide the newspaper pool set if you wish to do so. This means you might share with one other paper or five. If you want to do that, please contact the media coordinator and me. If your request is granted (it's rarely denied), you'll have to be present on the open practice day at 4:30pm (local time) for a strobe test with CBS. If you are running a pool, you must be present at the strobe test to fire the lights, answers questions and make any necessary adjustments.

When you file for credentials, it's also a good idea to let the media coordinator know you'd like to either provide pool strobes or participate in pool.

Remember that no remotes are allowed on posts or behind the glass. The media coordinator is the sole authority on allowing remotes anywhere else, and his/her approval needs to be requested with your original credential requests. Requests for any off court remotes at the Final Four have to be in writing to the NCAA with that credential request, which is due March 1.

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For deadline planning purposes, the times for tourney games are set after selection Sunday (March 11) by CBS & the NCAA. But the Minneapolis Final Four times are known now. National Semifinals, Saturday, March 31: Game 1, 4:42pm (Central time); Game 2: Follows 35 minutes after conclusion of game one. National Championship, Monday, April 2: 8:18pm (Central Time).

For publications that will staff the Final Four regardless of the schools, requests for inclusion in the strobe pool at Minneapolis are due to me no later than Friday, March 9. If you will only cover Minneapolis if your team advances, you can request now to be safe, or on the day after the regional final clinching game.

The media coordinator, using a chart provided by the NCAA, sets floor positions. There are normally two rows. Some spots are set aside for the wires (AP & Reuters) and national publications (USA TODAY, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, etc), but the majority are for newspapers In the host city and those following their respective teams. You may not (read probably) get the spot you're used to shooting it. Rather than stress out over that fact, look over the spots at the site and you'll probably find someone willing to trade. Media coordinators usually assign someone to handle this for them, and normally they're cool about such switches. Just don't try to switch 30 minutes before game time!

Backstage work areas are normally open to the media four hours before game time, with courtside opening two hours before game time. If you are approved for a remote, I suggest you install it on the open practice day, check the shot, then leave your clamp or magic arm in place overnight, so you can walk in and set that up when you arrive on game day.

As always, I'm happy to answer questions about this or anything else so don't hesitate to ask. Suggestions are also welcome.

(Porter Binks is the college basketball picture editor at Sports Illustrated, and has been the pool strobe coordinator for the NCAA Tournament since 1985. He can be reached at or 212/522.3325)

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