Sports Video Guy Speaks Out


Cole’s Mom (that would be Katybeth) asked me to write about sports, and while I tend to lean toward the funny side of things, this post turned out quite different. Maybe another time I will try to wax hilarious about the tools of ignorance or point out the shortcomings of offensive line play when it comes to “getting chicks.” This post was more philosophical though, and I hope you enjoy it.

Craig Louis Campanozzi’s Odd Sports Viewpoint

As a younger person, I used to think, “I don’t get it. What’s the deal with sports?” I didn’t understand why people thought it was so important that one group of people score or don’t score. It all seemed just so immature and mindless that I decided that my happiness would not be determined by what a bunch of kids did on a field somewhere. But then, after graduating college, a funny thing happenedI landed a job as a videographer (video guy) with a professional football team and later in the Athletic Department of a university, where I currently work. My job is to video record the practices and games of many different sports. All the athletes are aged 18 to 24 or so, and most of them will never play pro ball or make a million dollars playing their sports. While I can still honestly tell you that winning or losing doesn’t mean the end of the world, I can also tell you that winning makes everyone a lot happier and thus makes for a far better working environment. To quote sports legend Nuke LaLush, “I love winning, you know what I’m saying? I fucking love winning! It’s like, better than losing.” (Sorry, Cousin, the profanity was a direct quote.)

The thing is, after 26 years of doing this professionally and another decade or so as an amateur, I get much more enjoyment from the games than just the joy of seeing the final score. Watching kids grow up to be men and women of character (or not, and making sure I give them a good verbal kick or two if I see them going in the wrong direction), as well as watching them learn valuable life lessons and react to their successes and failures, teaches me a lot as well. As I have gotten older, I now have fewer close relationships with the students/athletes, but there are always a few who get to you. The thing is, the student/athletes at my school, while they are special to me, aren’t specialthey’re on every team, at every university, and in every country in the world.

I’ve come to appreciate the skill it takes to hit a ball with a bat. Ted Williams, maybe the greatest hitter ever, once said, “I can’t think of anything harder than hitting a baseball. A round ball, a round bat moving 90 mph, a split second to decide to swing, and a half an inch margin of error.” I heard that and was defeated by the physics of it all. Those who say that softball is far easier to hit for “those girls” need to consider that the distance travelled by the ball is four feet six inches without a mound and that the ball, while bigger, has bigger seams, so it moves more. So, a fastball in baseball at 90 mph from 60 feet 6 inches and elevated about 12 to 18 inches is comparable to a softball pitcher throwing at about 64 mph, which most of them can. I can tell you that those girls work as hard, train as hard, and travel as much as the boys do. These days, at least, they get similar benefits due to Title IX. Regardless, the skill it takes to hit the ball well, even four times out of ten, is considerable and worthy of admirationnot just because someone is hitting a ball, but also because I admire the dedication it takes to train in order to excel. There are many funny stories about things that happen “behind the scenes,” and that’s where they will stay for now. This isn’t that post. Sorry!

We have a women’s soccer team at my university, and a very good one too. I knew nothing about soccer when I began video recording them, but I have learned enough to be dangerous. Several of our players will be performing in the Olympics representing their countries. The skill it takes to play the game is unbelievable. What impresses me even more is the dedication that these young ladies show. They literally run miles in a gameevery gameand then run more in training. They strain every day, and then they can smile about it. It’s something to see. It’s really a privilege to get to see them.

Our football team is pretty good. This sport gets the most attention, but it is understood the least. It’s the sport that I feel I know the best, but I’m still just knowledgeable enough to be dead wrong and dead sure that I’m right. People think it’s about touchdowns, and crowds, and cheerleaders, but it’s not. It’s about people training their bodies to do unnatural things. It’s about taking pride in a block, or a route, or a hit that isn’t going to make a highlight reel. For every quarterback throwing a pass, there are blockers blocking and receivers running good routes and adjusting to coverages, and even then, the defenders get a chance to make their plays as well. It’s a chess match with full contact. I have met men who I didn’t think were very smart, but they knew football. They had football intelligence that was unbelievable but spelled like a 15 year old. But, there is less and less of that these days, especially among university players as opposed to professional athletes. These guys are under a microscope now with social media, and people tend to forget that they are still only young men and that young people make mistakes. Most of them don’t have those mistakes splashed all over sports center, but when you play college football, you might find yourself there. Consider your own teenagers, and if they do not happen to be gifted athletes, thank God that they have the gift of anonymity.

We also have tennis, volleyball (beach and indoor), track, golf, etc. Every year at this time of year, the season starts. For our office, it won’t end for 11 months because we cover all the sports. When football ends, baseball and softball will be there waiting. It never really ends, but the variation, the changing sports and players, make the years survivable and fun. This week, I have soccer high school camp for three days, and then I have softball for three days. Then the soccer season starts, and after this, it’s the football season. Last year, I participated in my own small football ball game, a soccer final four, a baseball super-regional, a softball world series, and a beach volleyball national final. I work 329 days of the year.

I have the same feelings each yearexcitement, terror, hope, wonder, and most of all, the feeling that I, just like every person on every team, will be asked to test myself in this venture. I will see what kind of person I am when the rubber meets the road. How will I respond when I am down? Will I find the will to overcome the fatigue, the energy to overcome the heat, and the stubbornness to outlast the cold? As always, we’ll see. And that is what I love about sports.


I love this  post, don’t you? Especially this line “The thing is, the student/athletes at my school, while they are special to me, aren’t specialthey’re on every team, at every university, and in every country in the world.”  And now Cousin Craig will have to return and share funny sports stories…unless like me, he is saving those for his after retirement book. 

Odd Loves Company,

More Posts By Cousin Craig:

Real Hero’s

Everyone Poops but Where? 


16 thoughts on “Sports Video Guy Speaks Out

  1. It is obvious you do your job with a keen eye. Those teams are lucky to have you. I have 6 kids and we went through a lot of cleats, gloves, bats, helmets, sticks, rackets, shin guards and laundry detergent through the years. My husband and I made almost every game and my kids often went to their sibs games. Sports helped make us a stronger family team. I miss those days of sitting on the sidelines and muddy jersey’s but I sure have some good memories.

    • I have to have a keen eye, I’m the video guy. (LOL!) I agree that sports can teach a lot of lessons. They teach us to fail and how to respond when we fail. Of course, there are always some coaches who make the games too seriously for there little leagues, but there are many, many more who are great teachers. I spent a lot of years as an equipment manager, so I know all about muddy jerseys and cleats. There is nothing as sleep inducing as a dryer spinning . . .

  2. Sounds like you put a lot of your heart into job along with the sweat it takes to stand out there on the field. I am a professional photographer and get the all weather nature of your job. We do a lot of sports shoots.
    My favorite shots are the candid ones where the kids are showing raw emotion–grit, determination, anger, tears, happiness, victory, and loss just to name a few. And sometimes if I am really lucky I’m able to catch a kid’s expression when they nail something in a game that you know they have practiced over and over. That look is priceless and maybe worth freezing your fingers off for.

    • I agree! Those moments are special whether it’s a little league game or the Olympic games. We have a few excellent photographer who capture those moment for our sports information department. I handle what you pro guys call the “all 22” shot, which means in football world that all 22 players are in the shot. I teach our student workers that some people are like Picasso, they are taking pictures or shooting video as art. We are like house painters, our job is to not miss anything. Thanks for reading!

  3. Great Williams quote. When my kids first started to get into sports I thought my business could just write a check to sponsor the teams. my ex could show up with snack and I could cheer if the games didn’t interfere with my golf games. And then when they asked if I would help coach I thought I had the perfect out. I never played baseball other than on that proverbial sand lot. No idea how to pull a team together. Well, that excuse didn’t work and golf took a back seat to coaching little leaguers for a lot of years. Sometimes those practices and games had me swearing up and down I would never do it again. But I always did. I am pretty sure that I got more out of it then the kids but it has been rewarding to see so many of my young players grow up and come back to tell me that I made a real difference in their life. And funny thing is I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast but I know each of those kids names, what position they played, and at least one of their best moments. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Glad your cousin asked you to write this post.

    • Mike- this is my secret: I would do this job for a lot less – Just don’t tell my boss! I enjoy it, although like you I do find many days that I would welcome that 40 foot video lift falling over just so I could take the next few days off. The days crawl by and the years fly by. I remind myself to try NOT to be like Wally Pipp! (Google it if you don’t know).

      Cole’s mom is okay in my book! A bit odd, but hey, who isn’t?

      Thanks for reading!

    • Thanks for the comment~!

      Just to let you all know, I am in Florida, so the cold is not my biggest problem. I hope we are successful but I know the year will be great! Thanks for reading!

  4. What a cool look into a profession most of us know little about! I played sports as a kid, and so did my son. However, we didn’t have the advantage of having a videographer on the sidelines (perhaps too small a community??). But I know your job is most helpful, to kids and coaches alike. Just be careful on those elevated platforms, especially when it’s windy!

    • We played in the first game after the Notre Dame tragedy. I guess most don’t know, but most of us have a wind strategy. Our lifts are rated to withstand 25mph gusts at full extension. We come down to halfway up at 15mph. At twenty we come down all the way. Our coaches have been greatly supportive and have even moved practice to our indoor facility on days when wind was a factor. During practice I have a wind app on my phone and a hand held anemometer to measure the wind speed.

      Here in Florida, the bigger threat is lightning. I have a lightning app on my phone and we have a department wide service that sends alert when any lightning is within 15 miles. 15 miles is an alert, 5 miles means you have to come down. We come down with lightning inside 8 miles.

      That probably more than you ever wanted to know~! Thanks for reading!

      • Actually, no, I found your reply fascinating. I’d hoped for a long time that some precautions had been put in place so tragedy wouldn’t strike again. Kb must have told you the tragedy I was alluding to. Thanks for clarifying!

        • Craig must have made his way over to your blog and figured out you were a Notre Dame fan. :-D. Nary a word from me. The cousin is tricky.

        • Actually, these rules were in place here before the Notre Dame incident. I once hired an intern that came in from the west coast. After talking to him, I discovered that he, while working for Colorado St, was a similar victim. I couldn’t believe he would still go up in a lift! I think it’s like anything else. like a car for example, if you use it properly it is very safe, but if you don’t bad things can happen. I also feel a strong need to say that the video coordinator at Notre Dame is one of the best in the business. Accidents happen and it could have happened at any school. It was a series of unlikely events happening that killed that boy, not Notre Dame or anyone at Notre Dame. Sometimes, no matter how safe a driver you are, you get into an accident. My goal as a video guy is simply to use that accident to try to prevent another accident. Our cameras have the ND shamrock with DS on them (the boys initials) to remind our kids every day that safety comes first. We tell them, “We can get another camera – We can’t make another you. I’m not going to be the one who calls your mother and says ‘yes, I knew he was at risk, but boy the video looked great right up to the time he died.'” Of course, it also helps that I am usually outside in a lift too, so I’m protecting my own behind as well.

          It bothers me a great deal that the University and particularly the video coordinator at Notre Dame have received so much blame, as if anyone would not trade anything to be able to go back and prevent this tragedy. It’s a shame that when unfortunate things happen we look for someone to blame rather than for someone to help.

          P.S. I am tricky, I can’t argue that.

        • This is something I wrote to our CSVA (Collegiate Sports Video Association) after the ND accident. I thought it might be of interest to you.

          Declan Sullivan died Wednesday, October 27th, 2010. Many of us are sad and angry. As we tend to do as a society, we want someone to blame. “Somebody has to pay!” has become an empty creed that does nothing for the dead or the living. It simply gives us something to do in our helplessness, gives us someone to blame, and maybe makes us feel like there is a balance in life in that someone was hurt and some is being punished. I did not know Declan Sullivan, but I do think that if it were me, or one of my kids, that there might be something more I’d want done than petty vengeance- something certainly of more value. Perhaps we can make the living a bit safer and the dead rest a bit easier. At the end of the day, after blame is assigned to coaches, or lift companies, or universities, Declan Sullivan will still be dead. It is up to us to make sure that he didn’t die for nothing.

          As a body the CSVA has the potential to do great things, and it has done some great things. This is perhaps a call to do more. Why are we, as individual video offices, or even as individual conferences, trying to set standards for what is safe? There should be a nationwide standard, based on the height of the lift, the speed of the wind, the type of lift and the type of surface it rests upon. If we as an organization can create a safety standard and present it to our AD’s, based upon manufacturer standards and our collective experiences, it might do two things. First and most importantly it might save a life. Secondly it may make our organization a legitimate source for information as it related to our specific trade.

          I’m not a poet, or as good with words as I would need to be to make anyone feel better about a young man’s death. I believe it could have been anyone of us, anywhere, on any given day. I believe that blaming anyone will not help anything. I also believe that eventually, no matter how safe we make it, no matter how many standards are written or precautions are taken, that someone will eventually die again in a scissor lift while videotaping. I hope that if we act that event will be far, far in the future and much less frequent. In the end, if we save one life, if we save one young person who is braver than they should be, then maybe the spirit of Declan Sullivan and all the others will have peace. Let’s take a lesson from the dead and act to help the living.

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