Last Thursday I was setting up on a set of steps just outside of the endzone and preparing to get a warming up shot of my sixth grader's middle school team on the opposite end of the field. I was focusing my camera (5D Mk III, 70-200F2.7L and Giottos Monopod) when the High School Principal (Not middle school, but they are combined), approached me and asked who I was with. I laughed and wondered why he would ask since I'd been shooting pics and video for years at the field and at basketball games. (My oldest is a senior on the HS football team, my 15 year old plays mainly basketball, and my 12 year old plays all sports). I replied that I was with myself. I didn't want to claim I was with my son's team, because I have no official relationship with them. He stated that I could shoot from there, but I could not be on the sidelines. I asked if he was serious and he stated he was. He went onto say that it was for people with press passes and was a liability issue. He stated that only the county board of education can grant sideline access.
Since last Thursday I now have a 'Press Pass' and now have liability insurance. I called the County school board and they knew nothing about press passes. I also called all of the County school boards of teams that we play this season and got approval to shoot from the sidelines.
Not being able to shoot from the sidelines at my son's home field is NOT an option. I put my gear back in the truck and watched the game from the stands, but I'm really at a loss for why this guy made this decision. I don't have a pass yet from our County school board since they're still trying to find out why I was told that I had to in the first place.
At first I suspected it stemmed from a semi pro that sells pictures; he was there taking pics and was the most likely suspect. I spoke with him at the away HS football game the next evening and he said the guy was just odd and that he was surprised I hadn't had problems with him before.
Last year our HS team went to the second round of the State playoffs and I shot from the sidelines there with no questions asked (other than about my gear).
I post my pictures on FaceBook and upload to Fotki for anyone that wants full size pics. I am not a professional photographer and do not charge for pics. I'll be making 8x10 pics of all the players on the HS team (40+ players) for free and the school will present them with frames at the end of season dinner. This is the same HS the principal works for.
Our State (WV) has an athletic association (WVSSAC) and they have no rules specifically about photographers or sideline access. They do have rules about video, but not stills.
Has anyone encountered anything similar and if so what did you do? If not, what would you recommend that I do?
My 'Press Pass' is from the National Press Photographer's Association. I joined for $119 just for 'Press Pass' credentials. My liability insurance cost $750. I pay to get in to games and do not wish to access for free; I just want sideline access. I have never yelled nor cheered from the sidelines either.
In the past I have met with the Principal for various issues involving my sons; nothing major and there were no hostile words.