It was as if I had turned the corner and driven into the past—a scene from yesteryear I seldom witness these days, even in a college town. Through the windshield, the narrow street had come alive with the action and color of a pickup football game. I smiled and watched, taken back by the simplicity of the game.
With my camera on the seat next to me, I stopped in the middle of the road, shut off the engine, stepped out of my van and made a few pictures. The colors—red sweatshirts matching the red stop sign—and the joy of playing for the love of the game was too good to pass up. I was able to photograph several plays before the group noticed me and moved aside.
There was no fee to watch the game or to park, just the pure joy of watching a beautiful, unrehearsed game of old-fashioned street football. At a time when the business of sports has stolen the joy from so many games, it was refreshing to see college-age students having so much fun in the street.
I purposely kept the wide environment—the stop sign, parked car and background—which gives the picture context and flavor. It is not what they are doing that is most interesting, but when and where they are doing it. I also made a quick decision to use a relatively wide aperture to keep a shallow depth of field and get separation of players from the background. I used a fast enough shutter speed to stop the action.
Reader Challenge: For the Love of the Game
Find and make a well-composed picture of a non-league sporting event where people are playing solely for the love of the game—away from coaches, stadiums, pressure, money. If you have a telephoto lens, consider using it so you don’t interfere with the game.
To respond to this challenge, and share your work, email your best image to email@example.com with a caption and photo credit. We will share the best submissions on our website or social media channels.