Look out for the crazy cameras on the sidelines

It’s well known by most football fans that this year is going to be less than stellar for my beloved Aggies. Just as well. It helps my stress level tremendously not to have any high hopes of chalking up a win on any given Saturday. What does get me excited is Friday night football with our hometown Brady Bulldogs. I must shamefully admit, when the season started, I was already slightly burned out on covering games on a weekly basis. This being my twelfth season on the sidelines looking through a camera lens, I was not all that excited. But thanks to Coach Jones and the Bulldogs, I found myself jumping up and down with excitement Friday night as Prennis Williams broke free for the game-winning touchdown in Fredericksburg. I got so excited, I forgot to shoot any photos. I recall turning to Leslie Jones on the sideline late in the game and whether I was re-assuring her or myself, I told her “they can do this.” Boy did they ever. With all of the excitement of the game, there was much to talk about from the final buzzer all the way home to Brady. It was the topic of several conversations anywhere I went on Monday and still is today as we get ready for homecoming. The way I summarize it is I tell folks that the game, the ambiance and the night as a whole was exactly what high school football is all about. Screaming fans, bands playing, players hyped up on adrenaline and two closely-matched teams battling for the victory. Friday night lights epitomized. There was however, one incident that drew the attention of folks in the stands and the press box that I feel needs an explanation. On the first play of the second half, the referee came storming to the sideline and had several choice words for me. Folks have been asking what it was all about, so I’ll let everyone know from my viewpoint. To the observer in the stands, it looked like the referee tossed me out of the game. What really happened is he got bent out of shape for absolutely no reason and acted like a child. There are rules about where photographers can and cannot be. The lines are clearly marked and after coach Jones had a sideline penalty called earlier in the game with no warning, I knew these guys were more than a bit uptight and would enforce the rules to the n’th degree. Here is my take on why the referee went off like a rocket. He most likely caught a glance through the crowd of my camera getting kicked by a Fredericksburg player who went running full tilt behind me. (Never mind that it was well after the play and everyone was safely out of bounds). Natural reactions I have developed over the years make me shield the camera and turn away from the action whenever it gets too close. In this particular instance, the player kicked the monopod on which my camera rests’which all likely happened right when the referee looked my way. We all knew the referees were from the San Antonio group. A lost lawsuit against the S.A. association from a game where someone was critically injured on the sideline is the reason the sideline rules are now so strictly enforced. With the play all but over, the referee came storming up to me making up statements that he had been dodging me all night, had almost run over me once already and that he was going to stop the game if I didn’t get back on the track. Are you serious’ I know my rights about where I can and cannot be, and I was exactly where I was supposed to be. But I also know that the referees rule the stadium. When coach Jones stepped in, he lit into him as well. At that point, not wanting to say something that really would have gotten me kicked out of the stadium, I made a hasty exit to remove myself from the situation. I didn’t want to be a distraction and I needed some time to cool off. I ended up visiting with the paramedics near the gate who also wondered what it was that sent the referee into a tailspin. I understand why referees want things to be safe on the field. They don’t want folks to get in their way and they don’t want to have to worry about it. I fully agree. But for those of you who couldn’t hear the referee’s raised voice or see the crazed look in his eyes, that’s all it was’him looking out for his crew. Too bad he acted like a spoiled brat on a power trip to appease his ego. Oh well. Such is life on the sidelines. See you at the game.’JS

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