Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 8, 2016

I got to watch a game

By Brooks Taylor

By BROOKS TAYLOR

Mt. Pleasant News

I’ve been going to state basketball tournaments since high school which is so long ago that it isn’t even in the rear-view mirror any longer.

Seldom have I gone as a spectator, but I did Saturday night. I enjoyed it because not only did I like the outcome, but I could just watch.

Most of my state tournament attendance was work-related, either as a writer or as a photographer or as both. Saturday night I did not have to worry about my photos or attempting to take notes as I was shooting pictures. That alone made the experience pleasant.

Pardon me for the quizzical look I formerly gave to fans when they came up to me after the game and said, “Well, now you get to go home.”

No, now the work actually begins. A story has to be written, photos have to be chosen and pictures printed. My work at state tournaments preceded digital photography. Many nights I would be at the newspaper, burning more than midnight oil, as I developed the 35-mm film, scanned the images through a magnifier and then printed the photos.

Digital photographers don’t know how lucky they have it.

As time moves ahead, I find myself less involved with sports. I think that is a good thing. While I occasionally take sports photos, no longer is it a regular assignment.

There have been other changes as well. As my sports responsibilities have decreased, so has my love of sports.

Numerous times (when I was covering sports regularly), fans would come up to me after the game and say, “Well, you would be here anyway even if you weren’t taking photos or writing.” At the time, I just nodded and agreed.

Not so fast.

While I still enjoy sports, it no longer is a passion. Ten, 20 and 30 years ago covering sports was a labor of love. My desire upon high school graduation was to become a coach. I scrapped the idea a year later because there was a glut of teachers/coaches in South Dakota, and I needed a job following college graduation. Wanting to retain a connection with sports, I opted to be a sportswriter, something I had done since early high school for my hometown newspaper.

Not only through sportswriting and photography but I also kept the sports connection through coaching youth sports for over 30 years.

Today, the passion is not there. Photographing games has become a job rather than a labor of love.

Why?

I am not sure but I think a lot changed when my children started graduating from high school. All of them were involved in sports, beginning in fifth grade. I was spoiled. Once you have watched your children play and after they are gone, you lose some of your love for sports.

A daughter still remains in a high school 300 miles from here. The distance prevents me from seeing her compete or working with her on her skills as I did with my other children.

Not being able to see her play saddens me. I follow her through Quikstats and conversations with an area coach. But it’s not the same. She should be running at the state track meet this year and, hell or high water, I will be there.

She will be a junior next year, and I am going to see her play basketball several times before she is done. Sometimes pangs of guilt even invade because I attended every game the other children played. I think she understands but am not sure. It’s frustrating because matters beyond my control provide an obstacle. It is a part of life I have to accept.

Although my allegiance is with University of Iowa athletics, I am very proud of my alma mater this week. They did something Iowa didn’t do, qualified for both the NCAA Divison I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

You don’t hear much about South Dakota State in southeast Iowa, but the Brookings, S.D., school has darn good athletics. While this is the first time the men have qualified for the “Dance,” I believe this is the women’s fourth straight trip. Not bad when the school has been Division I for just four years. The year prior to moving to Division I, the SDSU women won the Division II national title.