John F. Russell: The things in sports that go over my head |

John F. Russell: The things in sports that go over my head

— I love sports, and I always have.

I love watching the game unfold, I love the skill and talent the athletes display on the field and I love the emotions the game brings to the surface. But there are a couple of things I just can’t wrap my arms around — like when a defensive lineman or linebacker wraps his arms around a quarterback on second and long just a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. Oh, I get the sack is a great part of the game, and in some cases, can influence which team will win or lose when the clock winds down.

What I don’t get is the celebration that follows what might turn out to be a pretty meaningless play in the course of the game. They run 15 yards in the backfield, throwing their arms in the air, doing some sort of dance that would get them kicked off of Dancing with the Stars or hurling themselves to the ground so all the other defensive players can pile onto of them.

It distracts from the game, and it almost always cracks me up when, on the very next play, the offense breaks a big run or throws a pass downfield for a touchdown. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens often enough to make that defensive player and the whole team look a little silly. Like I said, it’s too bad that football games — and many other games — are not scored on defensive plays. If they were, maybe I would understand the celebration a little more.

It funny because, at heart, I’m a photographer; I love the natural emotions that come from playing the game, and I love it when athletes show those emotions.

But it’s a lot like salt — and a little goes a long way.

Another thing that drives me crazy is that fighting has to be a part of any good hockey game. I can’t understand why a professional hockey team has a position, the enforcer, whose job it is to get into fights as a way to respond to dirty play by the opposition. Isn’t that why we have rules?

Personally, I love the game of hockey, and I, for one, would be thrilled If it went on with no fights at all. What other sport allows guys to join in the middle of the playing field and start throwing punches? I guess professional fighters do it, but that’s the sport.

If players did that in the middle of a football, baseball or basketball game, there would be ejections, suspensions and fines. But not in hockey. It’s just a part of the game I don’t get.

Despite missing the point of such things, it’s hard to complain.

As a photographer, the open display of emotions is what drew me to the games in the first place. Many of my favorite images are of guys with their arms high in the air after a sack or players celebrating a win. I hate to say it, but those images are almost always better-received than images of players kneeling on the sideline with their heads in their hands.

But I’m happy images of both sort are a part of the game, and I would never want to do anything to dampen the emotions that fuel the games we love to watch. But I feel those emotions are more powerful when they are limited to the parts of the game that really matter. I also accept there are parts of every game I don’t understand, and I will probably never understand why we have to have fights in the middle of hockey games. But that will not stop me from watching.

I guess I will always love sports.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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