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|| News Item: Posted 2001-03-30

The Big Dance
Managing the Madness of the Final Four

By Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

It's Jubo seasonhome of the push, the shove, the fight, the unique feel of a betacam cracking over your head! It's the post-game pictures at the NFL championships, the Super Bowl (the granddaddy of post-game media chaos), the Final Four. So it seems like a good time to reflect on a short history of the post game jubo wars, basketball style.

Long ago, all post game celebrations were free-for-alls, the chase onto the court with the 20mm lens and the biggest, fastest, tallest, strongest got the pictures, and everyone else be damned.

That evolved into a more selective war: at the NCAA's, t-shirt bibs were given out, one to an organization, to limit the chaos. That was marginally helpful, but not much. Then one year, John Biever and I were receiving our shirts and lamenting the stupidity of it all. I said we'd all be better off if no one went out and we all shot from where we were and John agreed.

But John took the step, suggesting that we go to the NCAA (Dave Cawood) and request just that. We did, and of course the NCAA loved our volunteering to stay off the court. But the deal was that in return, they had to keep the court clear of cheerleaders, officials, everyone except for the two CBS crews that we would never get to stay off.

That first year, it all worked like a charm. No one ran, and if I remember it right, Duke's Christian Leattner stood and cheered as the seconds wound down and we all made great pictures. This has continued over the years with mostly successful results. Sometimes we have had problems with a stage crew running the platform out too early, or overzealous cheerleaders. But on balance it is a much better situation then it used to be.

Then there is the NBA. After the success with the NCAA, we asked the NBA to do the same. Sure, no problem. So during the 1994 Houston - Knicks NBA Finals, all newspaper and mag stills stayed off the court.

Unfortunately, we were the only ones that did. Families, officials, NBC cameras, sound, cable-pullers, and 6 or 7 hundred NBA Photos shooters, all roamed the court and we were the only ones kept back. No one who was not overhead made a frame. So we complained to the powers that be, and after 6 or 7 years of fine tuning the post game procedures, it is now worse that ever! You shoot overhead, or you get nada.

So we'll call it a draw on our attempts to make basketball jubo better.

Now, if I could only think of a way to make the Super Bowl post-game saner.

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

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