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|| News Item: Posted 2003-02-01

Leading Off: Notes on the Proverbial Scorecard
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

St. Vincent - Mary's LeBron James flies through the air to grab a rebound during a game against Mater Dei High School of Santa Ana at Pauley Pavilion.
Someone the other day accused me of being "a cranky old fart" … I took exception with that at the time.

But maybe he was right.

I made mention of this to my good buddy Bob Deutsch and he replied "maybe that's a good thing".

Maybe he's right too.

So here are some random thoughts and rants from the past month from a Cranky Old Man:

King James

To borrow some shtick from Groucho Marx "I went to a high school game the other day and ended up at a Mike Tyson fight!"

The LeBron James Barnstorming Tour (aka the St. Vincent - St. Mary 's High School boys basketball team) rolled into LA a few weeks back, proving once again that The Apocalypse is truly upon us.

When I pulled up to Pauley Pavilion FIVE HOURS before his scheduled tip-off against local powerhouse Mater Dei, I knew something was amiss immediately. Instead of seeing UCLA students wandering around enjoying the warm, sunny morning, I was greeted by lines of limos, double-parked sports cars and Hummers and characters running around that you normally would see hanging around the players' entrance at an NBA or NFL venue.

Yes … it was a full-blown circus.

"King James" as he refers to himself has already graced the cover of Sports Illustrated …. when he was a high school JUNIOR … so I guess I should not have been shocked to see the zoo that must accompany his appearances. But I was.

I kept mumbling to myself as I waited in line with the assembled media outside the arena…"it's only a high school game … it's only a high school game…"

But what was I thinking? I was there representing a national publication, SI had a staff photographer and two assistants setting up since 8 am (the game was scheduled for a 6 pm tip!) and the LA Times had three writers (including its lead columnist) and two people with photo credentials. Heck it was being broadcast live on ESPN and Bill freaking Walton flew in to work the game after calling an NBA game in Texas earlier in the day.

This was not a prep game.

Two hours before King James' appearance, Pauley Pavilion was crawling with scantly dressed women usually seen at a Pure Platinum (not that I have any first-hand knowledge what the inside of a Pure Platinum looks like!), greasy looking hucksters, the curious, the crazy and one or two real sports fans.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

St. Vincent - Mary's LeBron James' mother Gloria holds up a likeness of her son during a game against Mater Dei High School of Santa Ana.
Yes, it was like being at a Mike Tyson title fight in Las Vegas!

I've covered all kinds of crazy, over-hyped events in my career (the Academy Awards and "American Idol" come to mind) but this one takes the cake.

Friends of mine are probably tired of this expression, but it is certainly fitting of King James' So-Cal appearance: "This is what is so wrong with our culture today!"


San Diego Held Hostage

Last Saturday morning Bob Deutsch and I were enjoying a quiet breakfast before heading to Qualcomm Stadium to finish our set-up work for the Super Bowl. I was jolted awake with the huge headline in the local paper that essentially said "NFL to San Diego: Drop Dead!"

The page 1 story reported that NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue had declared that "The Q" (home of three Super Bowls) was now totally inadequate to host his Crown Jewel. And if San Diego were to ever see another Super Bowl it would have to cough up $200 million to build a new stadium for the Spanos Family and Chargers (with another $200 million given to Spanos in the form of a loan).

The DAY BEFORE the Super Bowl, the NFL pissed in San Diego's punch bowl! What cajones!

It had long been rumored that the Chargers and the NFL would use the lure of future Super Bowls to extort a new stadium, but to allow this to be splashed across the top of the front page a day before the Super Bowl showed absolutely no class.

The NFL has basically announced that there will not be a Super Bowl in California in the foreseeable future. They have already declared Candlestick Park and Stanford Stadium unfit and the Rose Bowl is out because a city cannot host the game unless they have a team.

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/USA Today

Bob Deutsch and Robert Hanashiro on the field after Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego.
So the NFL has now said GOOD-BYE to one of two states that has great weather in February (SB's will now be the first Sunday in Feb.).

So HELLO to potential Super Bowl cities like New York, Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Buffalo! (The game in 2006 will be in Detroit!).

Never mind that it was 85 degrees on game day in San Diego. I'm sure the hundred or so corporate parties held outside in tents at SB XXXVII and the NFL's traveling amusement park The Experience, will be lovely in 15 degree weather.


Where's Waldo?

For those of you that have emailed me and posted in the .com Message Board … that was not me you saw on TV during XXXVII!

I was not wearing a blue ballcap (I always wear a Sports Shooter cap and it's khaki) and I'd need to drop 75 pounds to match the weight of the person you did see…Mongo Johnson???


Contest Deadlines

Photo by

Everybody likes candy, especially contest volunteers.
A good friend of mine from a large metro shocked me a bit when he called late one night asking about the huge file size required by one of the Three Initial Contests.

"The deadline was yesterday!" I laughed.

"A bunch of us got an extension," he replied matter-of-factly.

While it said on all of the literature and on its web site that Jan. 14 was the deadline, many of our brethren routinely get extensions, often for several days and weeks.

A veteran volunteer of the Three Initial Contest said that photographers often use bribes … usually in the form of candy … to get extensions for their entries.

While I am sympathetic of those that travel and have little time for friends and families back home or for preparing their contest entries, we are in a business where deadlines are important.

If extensions are given out every year, why not let everyone know about this so they can benefit from them like some of those multi-award winners that get them. Make TWO deadlines: one for those of us that can meet deadlines and a second one for those that travel and can't seem to get those 30 meg files prepared and burned onto CDs in time.

Just make it fair for everyone.


The Yin and Yao of Digital Manipulation

Photo by Brad Mangin

Photo by Brad Mangin
While the debate rages on concerning the ethics of digitally manipulating photographs that grace the covers of most of the magazines out there these days, another down side is now you look at EVERYTHING with a jaundice eye.

I was having dinner with a good friend Rod Mar when he asked about an SI cover shot by mutual friend Brad Mangin.

"Was that photo (manipulated) or what?" Rod said over garlic roast chicken at my favorite Cuban restaurant last night.

When I explained that I thought it was shot at a great distance with a 400 and extender and that the players were essential on the same plane of focus, Rod replied "Oh that probably explains it. I thought it was Photoshop'ed."

But this little exchange illustrates the major downside of digitally manipulating photographs --- even an experienced photographer couldn't tell what was real and what was "Photoshop'ed".

While I understand the rationale that magazine covers are considered at many publications a "marketing tool", if we can't trust whether that uniform on Yao Ming was really what he was wearing or it was expertly pasted on digitally, photography loses a little more credibility.

I am not here to be righteous or to point the finger at any single publication. What I think personally is that ANY manipulated photograph used editorially should be labeled as such.

Is that a cop out? Maybe. But I like to think of it as a compromise.

* * *

This issue of Sports Shooter debates the issue of whether the NFL can control the free-for-all at the end of the Super Bowl and's monthly Clip Contest goes "live" today.

The Count makes a return with some "smoky suggestions" and Mongo Johnson rants about his favorite target: the Transportation Security Administration.

Southern California freelance photographer Joey Terrill makes is first appearance in Sports Shooter discussing the pros and cons of renting gear instead of owning and Trent Nelson reviews the new Lightware computer bag.

So sit back, adjust the brightness on your monitor, adjust the volume on that Diana Krall CD … and enjoy Sports Shooter v.51.

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