A Bang Up Job
Recently a KUSports.com reader inquired about what it's like when a photographer is run over by a player diving out of bounds. I think getting smashed by anything is typically a bummer, but in this case the only answers I can give is that it sometimes hurts, it's usually expensive and it's often a little awkward with all that sweat involved.
Pictured in the accompanying photo, which came from the first half of the Big 12 tournament championship game, is Texas forward Gary Johnson, out of control and barreling out of bounds. Sitting at left is Jeff Jacobsen, the Kansas Athletics photographer, who if I had to describe his look, I would say appears both vigilant and at the same time a bit skeptical of the situation. As for me, the one with his hand up and tongue sticking out, I don't know what I had hoped to achieve, but I will say that neither did any good to stop Johnson's momentum. On the UT Athletics website Johnson is listed at 6 foot 6, 238 pounds. KUSports.com has me in at 5-7, 160 pounds.
Jeff, who has been shooting sports for over 40 years had the veteran's presence of mind to grab his gear and move with the hit while absorbing it. I on the other hand barely lifted a finger other than the "halt" motion and ended up on my back. I guess I should be thankful I was sent to the floor by hands and arms rather than a shoulder.
Rarely is anyone seriously injured in these situations and it's more often the equipment that ends up on the disabled list. If I were writing this column 20 or 30 years ago we'd be talking about all the bruised and bleeding players limping away from the hard, metal-framed Nikons and Canons with edges sharp enough to knock over a liquor store with. Now it seems like anytime you look at your gear the wrong way it's a $500 repair.
Last week in Tulsa chief photographer Mike Yoder and I had two cameras go down. One gave us an onboard error message during the Boston game and the other was heard screaming for help shortly before being landed upon by Thomas Robinson during the Illinois game.
No matter if the hits are taken physically or in the pocket book, you still have to keep shooting. The experience brings to mind a recent conversation with a friend whose wife is in the later stages of pregnancy with their first child. When I asked how everything was going he replied, "I'm learning how to take a charge."