If you had the chance to catch the postgame celebration following the Jayhawks’ 80-67 victory over North Carolina, you probably saw the team pour onto the floor in celebration after the buzzer. If you were seated at a downtown bar in Lawrence, you may have missed the trophy hoisting and net cutting if you were among the thousands washed onto Mass. Street in the moments after.
In years past, mass hysteria ensued after the final buzzer as the pack of photographers stacked two rows deep on each baseline headed for the celebration at mid-court. It’s a little different now. It appears as though the NCAA has wised up with their approach to the postgame scrum. At least a little bit.
Now, photographers are held in their designated spots on the baseline for a full minute after the game has ended to photograph the celebration. This allows for several things to occur: The winning team gets their moment to jump around together, the CBS live cameras get a clean and unobstructed view of the celebration, the losing team and all their grief has the chance to vacate the floor safely, and, finally, a small stage is assembled for the trophy presentation followed by “One Shining Moment.”
Once all this occurs and the team is up on stage, all the photographers are given the green light. With that, all the civility and shooting pictures while patiently waiting one’s turn on the baseline is sent back down the evolutionary ladder in place of a snarling pack of beasts with thousands of dollars of equipment slinking from their arms.
In the pile, elbows and expletives fly without regard or warning. And it’s not uncommon that both the offender and receiver know each other, if not well.
At times it’s embarrassing to admit that I occasionally have to mix it up in the middle of all this. Sure I could make a stand by withholding my involvement in the postgame mosh pit, but all I’d have to show for it would be photos of the other photographer’s backsides.
With the last go-around in St. Louis before New Orleans, Journal-World photo chief Mike Yoder and I decided that he would shoot all the celebration from up high, while I would stick to the floor. It’s a good, safe bet to have two separate and drastically different looks of the same event. Wonder if Mike might paper-rock-scissors me for the high spot at the Superdome?