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|| News Item: Posted 2001-05-29

Leading Off: Shooting McCovey, Davenport & Dietz at Candlestick Park
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Kevork Djansezian

Photo by Kevork Djansezian
While covering the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I couldn't help but chuckle when I heard an announcement before every game that video cameras were forbidden along with cameras with "telescopic lenses", all lenses 3 1/2 inches or longer, tripods and all digital cameras.

But what wasn't funny was a letter I received from a friend who teaches high school photography. After reading Sports Shooters' recent coverage of the Major League Baseball credential agreement controversy he raised concern that sports is not only making photographers' jobs more difficult, but taking the fun out of the game for the fans.

He told me a story about a student of his who went to his first NBA game during a visit to San Antonio. Looking forward to seeing Tim Duncan and David Robinson, he decided to bring a camera to take home some memories.

As he and his family went to their seats, an usher noticed his 35mm camera and 70-200 zoom lens. He was told that he had "professional equipment" and would have to ditch the camera or leave the arena!

"What a discouragement to a young fan!" my friend wrote, "Do they (professional sports) think this young kid is going to get such great shots that he'll profit from them? I don't get it."

No, professional sports are the ones who "don't get it."

I guess I'm getting old when I think back to trips to Candlestick Park with my dad, totting a Miranda 35mm with a Soligor 135mm lens to shoot Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, Jimmy Davenport and Dick Dietz.

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin
I'm sure those old black & white 3/12 x 5 prints are in a shoe box somewhere in my mom's house in Fresno, but they got passed around a lot when I took them to school after I got the film developed at Thrifty Drugs.

It's too bad that sports these days is catered to the rich and famous Cameron Diaz strolling out on the court at the end of an NBA game to slap Shaq on the back is okay, but a kid taking a few snapshots is treated like some Internet pirate.

So what did my friend's student do with his forbidden "professional equipment"?

"He went to the bathroom and stuck the lens in his pants so he could go to his seat," my friend wrote.

MLB Credential Agreement, Part 3.

I started Sports Shooter almost three years ago with a call to arms to protest the NFL instituting a "network zone" on the sidelines which pushed still shooters farther from the action and allowed TV cameras to roam freely in front of us.

When I recently took up the banner to question MLB's credential use agreement I believed that it was an important issue to everyone in our industry. Sports leagues increasing demand for control over access, use and reuse of our work is something I figured would raise the ire of most of us.

I guess I was wrong.

While not receiving comments about various topics raised in Sports Shooter is not unusual, what I encountered while trying to gather information about what was going on across the country concerning the MLB conflict was something like a "cone of silence".

Information was tough to come by and pleas for any details went ignored in many places. Getting on the record comments about what various publications we're doing (signing or not signing) and opinions about the issues involved was nearly impossible.

Listen up: If we are to continue Sports Shooter and if we as a profession are to fend off restrictive policies and other moves that threaten how we do our jobs, we have to share information and stand together when it counts. Organizations like NPPA aren't going to do this (at least not in a timely manner), so we hope that Sports Shooter can continue to be a catalyst for issues and information concerning photography.

Photo by
So I salute people like Sam Mircovich, Alan Greth and Jed Jacobsohn who had the courage to share their views with me and all of you. Fighting problems like the MLB credential agreement is a two way street ... I ask for information; I distribute it to everyone but I also expect people to help when I ask.

Not wanting to publicly comment and actively contribute to making our industry better...that will force me to take Sports Shooter back to a totally private newsletter. Fighting problems that confront our profession, like the MLB credential agreement, is a two way street

'Nuff said.

* * *

Sports Shooter v.31 has an exclusive story by Mickey Pfleger chronicling his life after he was knocked down while covering an NFL game and discovering he had a brain tumor.

And Rick Rickman returns with his series on the business of photography, this month spotlighting the "art" of negotiating.

So sit back, push aside that Usagi Yjimbo graphic novel, adjust the volume on your MP3 player and enjoy this month's issue of Sports Shooter.

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