Now that we’ve reached bowl season, I’m going to use today to talk about sports photography, okay? Okay. Sports photography isn’t my #1 passion, it isn’t what I’d like to make a partial living at, but it’s certainly something I love to do as an amateur, as demonstrated through the huge number of photos I’ve taken of the Carolina baseball team. (Flickr is starting to be unable to cope with the size of that set, which means 2010 will get its own, as my “personal favorites” now get their own sets every year. That’s what happens when you have really good season tickets.)
I am utterly smitten by this photo of Charlie Weis, post-loss to UConn in November. I think it’s stunning; it’s a perfect moment of hitting rock bottom, knowing you’ve lost everything there is to lose. There isn’t a better visual representation of Notre Dame’s overtime loss to a devastated and reeling UConn team, of Charlie Weis’s crash and burn job as the head coach. I lack a lot of qualities necessary to work as a pro sports shooter, much less an AP stringer — patience, talent, an ability to pretend I give a good goddamn about the Big Ten or anyone in the Big 12 who doesn’t have an adorable quarterback — but the ability to make an image like that — that’s talent. (I’m not and never will be a Notre Dame fan, but unlike Rich Rodriguez, who I hope is tarred and feathered before being deposited on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, I felt a little for Charlie Weis. He didn’t do a great job for the Irish, but as a human being he does not offend me, and his firing made me a wee bit sad for him, especially when Ralph Friedgen got to keep his job because of the economy.)
And what I’m learning, looking at the ESPN AP wire posts after a weekend of football (a habit Ash got me into), is that I love the action shots (such as this one of TJ Yates in his natural habitat, aka being sacked), but I’m far more interested in and compelled by the moments of humanity. The Charlie Weis shot, or this shot of the Ginger Ninja and the late Uga VII. The moments that are not about the BCS or how fast a kid named Dexter runs, but the moments where all the participants in the sport are just people, people about to lose their jobs or people sitting next to dogs or people being people.
Relatedly: Big Shots, the sports photography blog of the Boston Globe (which loves photography so well), started posting their 100 best sports photos of 2009 this past week: part one and part two, with parts three and four yet to be posted.
Although in all fairness I should admit that we gave up the end of the Western Kentucky/Louisville game, and the shit-ass New Mexico Bowl, to watch the Star Trek reboot for the 14th time. So maybe that has something to do with my lack of AP sports photography drive, too.