I live in Texas where football is king. We don’t spell it football, it is Football.
And today I was reminded that I am a member of the media, not a football fan.
It is the rule in Texas, as it is probably most other places, that photographers are not allowed inside the “coaches box” on the field, during the game. Before the game, after and at halftime – photographers can pretty much go wherever they want to.
Our school does not have the budget to afford serious long lenses. A 70-300 mm is about the limit of what we can afford. The next step up just costs too much. So, in the past, our coaches let us cross the line into the coaches box to get better shots.
But tonight we were kicked out.
Of course the coaches have every right to do so under the rules, but it really was more about the attitude. In the past, we have provided the athletic department with a lot of free services cheerfully and without asking for a reward. But today, we were reminded that we don’t belong. We are “media.”
I’m going to make sure that we remember that when the athletic department needs something from the media. If they want us to be their PR department, then we should be treated like we are a part of the team. But, if they want to exclude us with the rest of the “press,” then they can forget us doing their PR dirty work. They can’t have it both ways.
So, since we’ve been told we are the media, then maybe it is time we acted like it. No more PR, no fluff pieces on players, only hard news.
I guess it is time we remembered whose side we are on. We are on our side – the media side.
After calming down a little, I’m still not happy about it, but we are going to respect the rules. But I am also going to make sure that other photographers are not given any special privileges either. Last night at least two other photographers were in the “box” and I’m going to make sure I mention it to the athletic director. Fair is fair – we only need one set of rules for everybody.
Update: There is no UIL rule, but the UIL recognizes NCAA rules for football which does limit access to photographers from the 30 to the goal line. The UIL also allows stadiums to set their own rules in addition on field and sideline access. To say the least – this is a serious restriction on a free press. I’m all for safety rules to prevent injuries, but some stadiums go too far in limiting access.