BY NOAH COOK | Ball State Sports Link
Growing up surrounded by football, my time was spent between the lines, rather than behind.
My playing career began in the second grade, continuing through my intermediate and middle school years, finishing after my senior year of high school.
Though through it all, I had only one perspective of the game. Whether on the field or next to others eagerly waiting to hear their number, my view remained the same.
Standing on the turf was a sensation I held only in the mindset of an athlete. Of course, I spent a majority of my weekend watching and re-watching collegiate and professional games.
However, these sights were being artificially distributed through a wide-angle lens halfway up the stadium, while I laid on the floor of my living room eating a quesadilla. In other words, I wasn’t exactly getting the full experience.
Missing the field, I looked to the stands, in hopes that it held the atmosphere I had always known. To my disappointment, it failed.
The jarring stares, hushed threats and barbaric grunts I once sensed, became lost within the thousands of circling vocal cords.
Though my eyes were naturally seeing the game, I still felt detached. It wasn’t until the beginning of my Sports Link career, with the unforeseen opportunities it brought, that my search would end.
Shortly after I joined the program, I was on board with the position of graphics for Sports Link Gameday.
Having no prior experience, expectations were nonexistent. I was nervous, yet focused. Within the blow of a whistle, the first home game was here.
Like we had practiced, the pregame show went smoothly, bringing with it a rush of excitement I had not experienced since putting on my helmet for the last time. It was different, yet satisfying.
Now came the question, what would I do during the game?
Remembering I had brought my camera along, I decided that I would go onto the field to take some pictures of the game.
Though I had only bought the camera a few months prior and was, and still am, learning photography, I realized it was an opportunity to grow.
I began at the tunnel, where I took shots of players coming out of an enwrapping darkness.
At that moment in time, being so close to the players and their energy, I sensed a familiar spirit arise within myself. From the ensuing kickoff, it only increased, becoming more and more familiar.
Being on the sideline, though not physically in uniform, I felt the atmosphere I had longed for.
Those familiar jarring stares, hushed threats and barbaric grunts were there. The energy of the players transferred to myself. The sounds of a coach screaming in frustration, players cracking jokes that had nothing to do with the game, and a ref telling everyone to back up were there.
The crushing hits that sent chills through your spine were there. It was all there.
Yet this time, I was soaking it all up, taking visuals of anything and everything. It was the atmosphere I had once known, though unlike anything I had ever experienced.
Rather than focusing on my role as a player, I was focusing on the beauty of the game itself.
It was different, yet breathtaking.