Buzz Bissinger has gotten the business end from bloggers and many others after his lashing out at former DEADSPIN editor Will Leitch on “Costas NOW” a while back. But, in a guest op-ed written for the NEW YORK TIMES, we can actually sympathize a bit with the “Friday Night Lights” author, for the one thing that can unite us all is dislike of the NCAA.
Bissinger was looking for the “Pure Sports Experience” while at the College World Series in Omaha recently, and at the end of a lament about the impending demolition and replacement of Rosenblatt Stadium, he recounts a little confrontation with NCAA officials over his camera.
Now, Bissinger had no problems bringing the camera and lenses in the first three times, but the fourth time in, there was a bit of an issue, as an NCAA rep said professional-grade equipment was not allowed.
I have a nice camera and some nice lenses, but they are not professional grade, nor am I a professional photographer. I tried to explain this. Blank stare. I tried to explain that I had no intention of shooting pictures of any of the players. Blank stare. I tried to explain that the pictures were for personal use only. Blank stare. I offered to let security officials keep the camera until the game was over so I could accompany my sons inside. Blank stare. I asked why had I already been allowed to enter the stadium three previous occasions with my camera. The answer back was that the enforcement of the N.C.A.A. rule had been lax. What rule? I didn’t see it posted anywhere.
An argument ensued, and I openly admit it got heated. An N.C.A.A. official in an orange shirt was called over. He had one of those little faces born in contempt, and he wasn’t happy. He curtly told me to take my camera bag back to my car. I told him I didn’t have a car since I was staying at a hotel on the Iowa side of the Missouri River and had gotten to the games by shuttle. He told me to go back to the hotel. I told him I would miss most of the game if I had go back to the hotel, not to mention the fact I was there with my sons. More heated argument ensued. More security officials arrived, excitedly smelling the scent of action. Camera alert! Camera alert! More argument. One of them got into my face. I got into his face. He pushed into my body. I pushed into his body.
I do not recommend this.
Roughly half a dozen security officials tackled me and threw me face first into the concrete, causing an ugly gash on my leg and a silver dollar-sized bruise on my arm. My glasses broke. One put me in a chokehold while another handcuffed me, all of it occurring in front of my three sons. They were traumatized. I was traumatized. Over a camera. At a sporting event, a college sporting event that likes to think of itself as the ultimate family affair.
In the rest of the account, he suffered a gash on his leg, told he was banned from the stadium, yet still managed to get back in and saw another person with lenses of much higher quality than his own, who had no trouble getting in.
Now, we kind of have to give Bissinger the benefit of the doubt to some extent here; it’ s not like we have reaction from the NCAA on his particular experience. The reaction might be a little much, but frankly, if I was confronted by a rule this dumb, I wouldn’t be too quiet about it either. Confrontational? Maybe. Angry and vocal? Most likely.
The valuable lesson here: going looking for any sort of “pure sporting experience” anywhere near the NCAA’s thumbprint is futile, and that’s at its best.