OT: High School Football: No Filming

jrazz wrote on 9/24/2007, 6:43 AM
I went to go film for the National Scouting Report at a local high school this past Friday. Once there I was allowed in and even given permission by the princapal and superintendant to climb a 60 foot tower to film from. Once up there, one of the coaches came over and told me that I could not film from there and asked me to get down. I told him that I had permission which he promptly checked out and conversed with both references I gave him. Finally the principal came over and told me that I could not film from up there and apologized. I got down and moved to the stands on the home team's side. After setting back up, he came up and told me that I could not film period and if the NSR wanted some footage they could contact the school and get any number of game tapes they had. I explained that they did not want game tapes, but that they wanted 1 player in action and that is why I was there. He apologized again and told me that if I was a news crew or a member of the schools coaching organization they would let me film, otherwise, I had to turn it off.

After that I spotted the opposing team's coaching staff and game camera. I went over to them and asked if I could film where they were. They had no objections and I was able to film from there unhendered. I will also be going to the opposing teams field this Friday to shoot for a different player for the NSR. When I spoke to one of their staff, they said that would be no problem and they even told me where to go to get to the top of the box office where I would get a good shot.

My question is this: Can you be told that you cannot film a High School football game? The student I was filming was aware of it and in agreement. I view this as being a publically funded (tax money) place that I should be allowed to film at if a news crew can, if parents can and if team officials can. Why the discrimination?
Regardless, I got the footage and it turned out well.

j razz


Dach wrote on 9/24/2007, 6:57 AM
I have been getting calls on providing such service, but have not yet had to. This is interesting and I would assume that you should be able to film the game, it is a public event and there are others for sure in the crowd doing the same thing.

Please share if you have problems again in the future.

TheHappyFriar wrote on 9/24/2007, 7:20 AM
last I recall since it's not inside the building you can. like said, it's a public event at a public school. what state are you in? I searched for NYS & couldn't find anything that said yes/no to video taking in publicly owned buildings/land.

But check the state's laws.
tumbleweed2 wrote on 9/24/2007, 7:35 AM

Welcome to the World of Municipality Madness!

Local government can often, & is often, a quagmire of information. You can
go insane trying to find out information you need, even for the simplest things.

I can imagine you going thru the same muck at the other school, even though you've been told ok already.

Just because it's a publicly school, it doesn't mean you automatically have a right to access of said place. & they will often give you an answer without knowing what they're saying is correct.

I wish you well.
TheHappyFriar wrote on 9/24/2007, 8:11 AM
FYI, if you are in a 100% public place (town owned sidewalk, street, playground, etc) it's 100% legal to tape whatever you can see (as shown by the guy in CA who taped children. Still don't think he should of had a restraining order put on him but that's not the point here). So.... Is there someplace 100% public you can tape the game from? Or, better yet, is there a tall building near the field you can use that's not school property?

EDIT: plan B. Write the local paper that you were a scout wanted to tape a player for a college team (scholarship, whatever). Say the school wouldn't let you even though you were told you could.

How do you think the town would react if a local player got gipped out of a good education because the school admin's are pricks. :)
jrazz wrote on 9/24/2007, 8:44 AM
I am in Tennessee (answer to a question above).

Again, I was able to get the footage, it was just a round about way of doing it. The coaches were the problem, not the school officials. I don't know if they thought I would be stealing signals or what. I cannot fathom a reason as to why they would not want me to film. It just doesn't make sense to me. Hopefully next week will be better (this type of work pays way better for the time involved than weddings by the way).

As for tall buildings near by, nope. I did learn something though: find out the home team's colors, wear them and pretend you are a parent with a good cam and sticks! :)

j razz
TheHappyFriar wrote on 9/24/2007, 9:02 AM
next time tell the coaches their EMPLOYER (BOE, admin, etc) said you could do it. ;) But I think you did.

The stealing signals thing would make sense except, like the coach said, teams can record if they wish. honestly, I've never been to a HS (or lower) football game where the anyway was restricted from recording.
rmack350 wrote on 9/24/2007, 9:20 AM
It sounds like the coaching staff had the problem, explained it to the administrators, and the administrators acquiesced. Many times people are a little more cooperative if they are asked in advance. In your case you just showed up (at least as far as the coach was concerned), maybe uncredentialed.

Can they stop you from taping? Probably not. Can they stop you from setting up a tripod and taping from the vantage point of your choice? Probably yes.

Parents get paranoid. You might very well get sympathy from a newspaper, or it might backfire if there's a sentiment amongst parents against having unknown people setting up in a tower overlooking their kids. I'd not ever want to get in a conflict with protective parents, give me bears instead.

I think I'd try to arrange a conference with the coaches and get them on board. It'd be a lot easier in the long run, especially if they catch on that you're making an end-run around them.

Rob Mack
jrazz wrote on 9/24/2007, 9:26 AM
I don't forsee myself going back there anytime soon, but if it does come up again, I will surely do some work on the front end to that end.

By the way, someone else brought this up. When it says violation, I wonder what it is violating? (note, this is not my state)


a. Non-Conference and District Contests

(1) Videotaping/Filming by Schools. It is A violation to film or videotape UIL non-conference or district athletic contest in which your school or team is not competing unless prior consent of the two schools involved has been obtained. A school does not have to obtain permission to film or tape a NON-CONFERENCE OR DISTRICT contest in which it is competing. However, the film or videotape may not be utilized until after the contest has been completed. Films and videotapes become the property of the school doing the filming unless by district rule or by consent of the schools involved in the contest.

(2) Videotaping/Filming by Individuals. Any individual (other than the officially designated school camera) taping or filming must have prior permission from the schools involved in the contest and may not obstruct the view of other spectators of the contest.

(3) Commercial Uses. Use of the films or tapes for commercial purposes must be approved by all schools involved in the contest.
This is from http://www.fortworthisd.org

j razz
rmack350 wrote on 9/24/2007, 9:29 AM
Telling them their employer said you could do it would be a lie in this case since a principal is not an employer (although a school district superintendant would have more weight). And the scenario laid out seems to be that the coach was able to change the administrator's mind on the issue.

I'm imagining that if this coach could make a convincing argument to the principal he can also call up coaches of other teams and make the same argument. So sitting in with the other team may not work forever, especially if the coaches start to recognize you and have you pegged as untrustworthy.

Rob Mack
jrazz wrote on 9/24/2007, 9:41 AM
L. No schools may tape or film a practice or a game involving two other teams. A school may tape or film its own practice or its own game. (http://www.tssaa.org/Handbook/football.pdf

This is the only thing I found in the TSSAA policies as it relates to filming games. It reads nothing like the Texas one quoted above.

I think this is more of an issue with the guy who contracted with me to do this as opposed to me dealing with the issue, but none-the-less I would like to know if this is discrimination or a legit right the school's coaching staff has.

j razz
TheHappyFriar wrote on 9/24/2007, 9:45 AM
that's district policy. there could be a state law that makes that illegal. My district, for example, lets anyone take any public event. To tape for a non-public event (such as normally in school) you need permission. But I'm sure we're pricks in other ways (a BOE member just tried to tell us he can come in/out of the school whenever he wants. Legally, he can't. We won the argument.)

but you weren't just "some guy". You were taping players for scouting purposes. That's why I suggested the article. I wouldn't bother going back to the school & letting the admin/coaches know that: you're not welcome to scout they don't get scouted any more. It's not like that discrict was in Podunk county, Backwater Town USA, it's pretty big. I'm sure it would be a public issue if the school refused scouts to tape players to see how good they are. I'm assuming football is pretty important if they charge.
rmack350 wrote on 9/24/2007, 10:54 AM
This is definitely a case where you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. You could insist that you have a right, it's a public space, blah, blah, blah, or you could get yourself on a first name basis with people and get to shoot when you want, where you want.

You're also right that it's probably more appropriate that the people hiring you do the prep work but in the end it's worth while to build up a friendly rep for yourself.

Doing the research you're doing can only help, too.

Rob Mack
CClub wrote on 9/24/2007, 1:32 PM
There's nothing wrong with videotaping football games without permission. -- Bill Belichick
MichaelS wrote on 9/24/2007, 3:22 PM
We send a shooter to our home team's games every Friday night. Been doing it for nearly 15 years. They let us shoot from the sidelines. Never a problem. We keep our nose clean.

1. We have their blessing. We give the coach a copy at the end of the year. We buy a sign on the fence. This stuff matters.

2. It is a paid, public event...produced under the guidelines of the state high school league. Their rules. We are their guests.

I think calling ahead would have been a good idea. Most coaches and administrators like to see their players scouted...scholarships, etc. But in this day, they don't like surprises either.

Anal...maybe...until they circumvent a problem that affects your child. And yes...they're plenty of coaches and administrators that are anal in the non-pschological way, too!

Sports is a lot like politics in that there's a lot going on below the surface. They may have recently had a problem with a cameraman..etc. Sometimes money changes hands (illegally) to allow certain privileges. Who knows?

Develeping a good relationship with the sports department is important if you plan to do this kind of work.

swarrine wrote on 9/26/2007, 10:00 PM
There are some issues that might come in to play...

You are taping minors, do you have parental permission?

There may be a league the HS has joined that regulates or wants money for taping.

There may be child custody problems where one parent does not want the child identified at a certain schoolor location for safety or legal reasons.

And so on...
arenel wrote on 9/27/2007, 10:03 PM
I have been asked by parents in the past to videotape football games that their kids participate in. After calling the coach and getting a cool response, I realized that some coaches are making a side business out of putting together recruiting tapes/CDs. Coaches typically are paid a stipend for coaching. A few hundred for minor sports to a few thousand for football. Some coaches are not even regular teachers.

I think that school property with an admission charge would not be a public place. TV networks must pay big bucks in rights fees. You could have gotten in some serious trouble.

Ralph Nelson

1marcus4 wrote on 9/28/2007, 8:03 PM
You are ALL making a mountain out of a mole hill, IMO. I have been filming high school football games for four years as a parent and team videographer, both at public and private high schools, for both the team and individual team players. My experiences lead me to believe that since you weren't "family" and NOT contributing to the game per se, the coaches felt you shouldn't be allowed in the "booth". (You are either friends of the family, or you are NOT friends of the family.) Every school's "booth" is different. Some schools have a 6 man sized "shack" placed up above the stands, others have a 60 foot pole with a little box suitable for one person, and others have absolutely nothing. You film along with the moms and dads.

BTW, it is customary that the only people allowed to film in the "booth" are the videographers from each team. This is an unwritten but very STRICT rule. Very rarely if you are from the local TV or cable station they MAY allow you in the "booth", or provide you with another premium location.

My best suggestion is to start making friends with the coaches. They really do own the fields.

Good luck!
jrazz wrote on 9/28/2007, 9:01 PM
Just got back from filming in a different town at a different stadium. No problems. They even let me on top of the press box with the "eagle-eye" coaches and the student videographer. Very good view as we were on top of the press box. Very welcoming and no one said a thing to me. They were excited that someone wanted to come and film one of their players in hopes of them getting a scholarship.

So far I am shooting 1 for 2 on being welcomed. If I have any more of these come up we will have to see how it goes.

I really just think the previous game's coaches were just wanting to flex their muscles. Again, the TSSAA has no stipulations regarding filming that pertains to what I was doing.

j razz
dat5150 wrote on 9/28/2007, 9:42 PM
Have you verified that this team or school district has a preferred or 'approved' video person/company? You may be treading on someone's turf ?
jrazz wrote on 9/28/2007, 9:52 PM
There are none. When I was there the coach had 1 camera set up with a student running it and the opposing team had 2 cams with a guy running one and a student running the other.

As for it being a turf thing, it should not be. I know all of the videographers in my region. Now, they could have hired Joe Schmoe off the street to do it, but all the legit videographers in my area I am familiar with. Besides, if I have been contracted to film for a recruiting agency, turf does not matter. I am not shooting the game. I am only following that one (or 2) player(s) that they asked me to get on film. I only film when they are on the field and I only focus on them. My job is not to follow the game, but to follow the player. For someone to be upset about me "treading on their turf" is just rediculous unless they were just filming the same player I was there to film.

Also, to speak to that same concern, if that was the case, when I first spoke to the principal and superintendant, they would have told me. This did not become an issue until one of the coaches got involved.

j razz