I have been going to NFL games since the mid 1980’s and I have seen many changes since 9/11 that have made it increasingly difficult to take photographs at such events. Since then, many venues do not allow fans to bring in certain types of camera equipment, mainly “professional” cameras or lenses. Whether it is for security reasons or for image control reasons, it is often left up to individuals, often lower paid contracted security people, to define what is “professional” or not. In truth, this is an arbitrary term and as any first year law student would tell you not sufficiently descriptive to be understandable. The real impact of such vague definitions is that some people, people like me, are arbitrarily subject to increased scrutiny and action whereas others people in similar circumstances are left unfettered.
Why am I discussing this matter as opposed to subjecting you to my usual game day drivel? Well, the past two weeks I have been asked to stop taking photographs of the beautiful Charger Girls because there is an issue with the camera equipment that I have been using for the past several years. And I have been a season ticket holder since 1999 and have been taking photographs for all that time. My specific equipment may have changed over time, as I have upgraded, but it is essentially a DSLR and a long telephoto lens.
To their credit, the Chargers organization has had a very generous policy with respect to photographic equipment, that is digital and video photography is allowed provided it is for noncommercial use. But apparently this year, the policy has been amended to say that long or large lenses are not allowed. I have no real issue with their right to impose such restrictions, since it is their prerogative. The issue I have is that this new policy was not communicated to the season ticket holders in the A-Z fan guide provided, nor was it published anywhere on line. I only discovered this new policy when the security people stopped me from using my gear during the first quarter.
Okay, I am a law and order type of guy and though disappointed, I complied. And this is where my dilemma comes in. I asked, for future reference, if my lens was unacceptably large or long, then what is an acceptable length so that I could be in compliance for next time. He couldn’t tell me. All he knew is that he thought my lens was too long…and in all fairness it is a long telephoto lens. And in fairness to me, I would not have brought it in if I knew that it was, in a change from years past, too long because all I want to do is to photograph the absolutely fabulous 2010 Charger Girls.
Upon his recommendation, I went to Guest Services at halftime to seek clarification so that I will be able to continue to photograph the absolutely fabulous 2010 Charger Girls in the future. Now, the two points I raised were valid and perhaps was the reason why the very nice and understanding Guest Services people granted me permission to continue to use my gear for this game. Here are my two points: 1) if there was a new policy or amended policy, why is it that the fans weren’t made aware of it because I was not the only one with a DSLR and long lens at the game. And 2), so that I could be in compliance for next time, what is an acceptable length of lens that fans could bring in? Well, to that second point, there is no specific or definable answer, as of yet.
Other stadiums restrict, if they do so at all, lenses to be of a certain focal length. 200mm is common, if any restriction exists. Or they restrict lenses by length in inches. No longer than 8 inches is common, if any restriction exists. Some venues are more restrictive. Some venues, like at Qualcomm stadium until this year, have no such restrictions.
Now why am I bring up this up here? There is no reason other that as a long time season ticket holder, I want to be able to comply with their restrictions and be able to photograph the absolutely fabulous 2010 Charger Girls in the future…ostensibly with the same equipment that I have been using for years, but that might not be possible. And I am certain that the Chargers organization will find some acceptable middle ground where my interests can coexist with theirs.
No. The real reason why I am discussing this matter is the larger issue of personal freedoms in the post 9/11 era. In this security conscious day and age, we have lost so many of our personal freedoms, little freedoms like taking photographs in certain public places or accepting increased scrutiny and security screening when entering places such as an NFL game. Certainly most of these sacrifices are reasonable and necessary to ensure our overall security. As a law and order Republican, I sympathize with the most ardent Progressive who passionately defends his rights to exercise his personal freedoms without unnecessary governmental interference.
This little incident, while impacting only me and only in a small way, though a very personal way…made me think about all that we have lost since 9/11. We have lost our innocence. We have lost our sense of safety and security in era of modern anti-American terrorism. And we have lost many of our personal freedoms as a consequence of this new reality.
I am not suggesting that we eliminate all the restrictions in what we can bring into a stadium. But what I am suggesting is that we not lose the essence of what made America the greatest country on this earth. The freedom to do what we want to do, when we want to do it. This a founding principle of the American way of life. I expect my little issue to be discussed amongst the powers that be within the Chargers management and clarification to be reached. It may even be a league issue because in the digital era, image control issues are a hot button topic and protecting your rights is a concern.
What I am suggesting is that to the powers that be is to take a stance for the fan and allow a few more personal freedoms to be reinserted in this game day environment. Let the old policy stand. Do not take the easy road and take a hard line stance against “professional” cameras and lenses. Let people like me to continue to enjoy taking photographs of the Charger Girls and photographs of our game day experience, so we can share them with our families and friends. So, we can share the joy of going to an NFL game with those who may not be so fortunate.
So, let us be bold and take a stand for more personal freedom and take a stand for the American way of life…the way it used to be before 9/11.
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And now let us return to our regularly scheduled programming….THE ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS CHARGER GIRLS!
As I noted in my “New American Manifesto”, I was not able to shoot a portion of last Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, I was not able to showcase Katie’s line.
So, let’s begin this weeks coverage with the Line Captains: Tiffany, Giselle, and Ashlie.
This week’s Charger Girl of the Day was a hard decision to make. There were more than a few girls that stood out, like Brianna, Anjelica, Ashlie, and the two Laurens. But this week’s Charger Girl of the Day had more remarkable images, so this week’s honor goes to rookie Charger Girl Emma.
For this week’s abbreviated coverage, let us introduce this weeks Charger Girls in alphabetical order. Here’s Amanda, Amy, Anjelica, Brianna, Emily, and Hannah.
And we continue with our parade of absolutely fabulous Charger Girls with Hayley, Jennifer, Jesse, Kimberly, Kylie, and Lauren O.
And we conclude this week’s coverage with photos of Lauren P., Maria, Michelle, Nicole, and Stephanie.
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For more Charger Girl photos, please visit my blog: thehottestdanceteam.wordrpress.com.