Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Bland Side

Football has been rousing emotions for hundreds of years in a variety of forms, all having in common the idea of moving a ball from one place to another with varying degrees of violence as the means of propulsion. - Heywood Hale Broun

I love covering football. On a crisp autumn afternoon, all I need to hear is the barking of play calls or the cracking of helmets and pads and if I'm standing on a sideline with a camera in my hand, I'm one happy photog! So when I discovered my good friend Kevin Beckstrom's son Ben played Saturdays for a local Boy's Club team, I jumped at the chance to shoot one of his games.

You see, normally when a newsphotographer is assigned to a contest their focus is pre-determined: either capture game action and features or gather stock images of individual players for file photos and story matchers. But when you volunteer your services, you're free to shoot whatever you want and I wanted to try something I've never had the opportunity to try before: to dedicate all my attention to only one player for an entire 4 quarters. Kevin said Ben played both sides of the ball -- he was an offensive and defensive lineman -- which made me think - how perfect - I'm about to record The Blind Side from both perspectives!

Very few athletes have the dedication or talent to be starters on the offense and defense of any team. So those that work both sides are usually designated as role or situational players meaning they only take the field for specific assignments or formations. Ben Beckstrom is such a lineman. And unfortunately today, there weren't many situations that required his presence.
The Bland Side -- that's the movie that should be made about situational lineman because most of their time is spent on the sideline . . . waiting and wishing their number is called. And although it's easy to become bored or disinterested during a particularly slow 2nd quarter, they must remain vigilant, alert and prepared to enter the game at any time. Situational lineman do the dirty work that doesn't appear on the final stats sheet and recognize that approval from their coach is the greatest praise they can receive. They are true team players.

I gained a new appreciation and respect for role players while following and photographing Ben along the sidelines during this game. After all, 3 or 4 players are usually credited with the success of a team when we know a victory requires the contributions of all 11. Today Ben's contribution seemed minimal but it mattered and his team won. Next week he may be called upon to do much more. Either way, Ben will be ready and will do his part. That's just how it is for players on The Bland Side and I believe all those guys deserve a big salute!
Special Note: Ben's Salem, OR, Boy's and Girl's Club team, The Chargers, defeated the Vikings earlier this month to be crowned champions of the Mt. Hood Bowl . . . and Ben was awarded with a game ball -- Way to Go!
You may also recognize the name of Ben's father, Kevin Beckstrom, for the amazing cartoons he's had posted here many times before. You can check out his fine work at: