Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

In the Red Zone

For all those who don’t follow American football (and there are more than a few), the “Red Zone” is the area on the field between the opponent’s 20 yard line and the goal.  If you have the ball, and you find yourself on that most coveted ground, you are very likely to get some points.  Even if you don’t score a touchdown (7 points, including the extra point), you should at least be able to kick a field goal (3 points).  Something good should happen.  While not an absolutely “sure thing”, it is certainly an expectation.

Well, football is still about a month away.  The London Olympics, however, are in full swing.  And in my mind, at least, I find that word – expectation – popping up again and again.  I expect certain things to happen.  I expected Michael Phelps to win more gold in swimming.  He did.  I expect the U. S. basketball teams to win gold.  They should.  We’re better at round ball than anyone else in the world.  We invented the damn sport.

These athletes, in other words, were in the “Red Zone” before the games even started.  In a word, the top seeds.  The ones to beat.

But they’re not the ones I’m watching.  Being glued to the TV while Lebron James and Kobe Bryant beat up on Argentina isn’t my idea of fun.  I really do hope they win, but all in all it doesn’t seem like a fair fight.

Actually, my real interests are in women’s soccer and women’s track and field – specifically, women’s pole vaulting.  Why?  Because those of us who live here in western NY have a very “local” interest.  One of the star players on the U. S. women’s soccer team is Abby Wambach (from the Rochester suburb of Pittsford, NY).  If you’ve watched any of the women’s soccer I’d guess that you’ve heard her name once or twice.  If you happened to see yesterday’s match against Canada I’m certain that you heard her name.  It was one of the most exciting soccer matches I’ve ever seen (the U. S. team won at the very end).  It was an incredible display of teamwork and stamina.

In the women’s pole vault, an American named Jenn Suhr won the gold.  Amazingly, this young woman from Riga, NY has only been doing this sport for 8 years.  And she beat the reigning champion.  An astounding feat.  Impressive, to say the least.  While I’m definitely not a huge fan of pole vaulting, it was fun to watch this particular event.  I mean, how do you not root for local talent?

Especially when they’re in the Red Zone.


6 Responses to “In the Red Zone”

  1. John - Visual Notebook

    I’ve watched some of the Olympics – mostly women’s gymnastics and some of the swimming, but I can’t spare much time for viewing so I’ve sort of kept track off and on. I’m not completely sold on pros in the Olympics – weren’t they designed for amateur competition. Interesting shot – like an alien spacecraft traversing the surface of a red giant (I just saw “Sunshine” – if you like sf, it’s a great movie. If you like Danny Boyle’s stuff, even better.).

    • Paul Maxim

      I haven’t watched a whole lot either, John. Heck, you could spend 12 hours a day watching everything from badminton to dressage!

      Interesting observation about this image. I never would have thought of that. But it does kind of look that way. It’s actually the inside of a flower, of course, with a very shallow DOF.

      No, I haven’t seen “Sunshine”. I remember when it first came out I thought it looked interesting. It’s certainly an interesting plot-line………

  2. meanderingpassage

    We watch a little of the Olympics in the evenings and I did see both the women’s soccer victory over Canada and Jenn Suhr win the gold in pole vaulting — something very optimistic about picking up a pole and charging down the runway at full speed hoping to plant it just right, twist your body and clear that amazing high bar. I was touched when Jenn’s immediate reaction upon winning the gold was to find her husband/coach in the stands to share the moment, and a big hug, with. On the world stage, anywhere in the USA is local and I’ll root for them.

    Lovely photo. I don’t remember seeing you do a lot of macro/close up photography. 🙂

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Earl. I have done my share of close-up photography (especially with flowers) but I almost never post it. I don’t know why, except that it seems I’m most interested when I’m actually doing the photographing. It just doesn’t seem as captivating to me after the fact. But I do like the color red………..

      Yeah, I guess you’re right in this case. The true Cynic probably doesn’t charge down the runway carrying that huge pole. Lots of things can happen and only one of them is good!

      More seriously, Jenn Suhr’s story is even more inspiring because of some health issues she had to overcome. But she never quit. We can all learn something from that kind of determination.

  3. Cedric

    I am a fan of the Olympics. For many reasons though I do wish it went back to its root of being about amateurs. A down side of living in a world of large, greedy corporations I guess (see Paul I can be a cynic too 😉 ). I’ve been sick for the past week so haven’t been able to watch as much as I would have liked but like you I do enjoy many of the women’s sports. I’m looking forward to the paralympics as well. One of the competitors goes to the same school as my children. Sports watching is always more fun when you know the competitors. The human aspect of the Olympics is what I like to focus on. All those amazing stories, all those emotional moments, the trials and tribulations, the heartaches, the joys. I do like letting myself get totally caught up in it all, even if it’s just for a short while.

    Anyway, nice photo. I do like John’s comparison to a spacecraft. Quite appropriate in light of Curiosity’s recent landing on Mars.

    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Cedric. Actually, that’s probably about as much color as you’re likely to see from me. It’s way too “cheerful”!

      And yes, when I posted it I was thinking of the Mars landing (although the spacecraft reference hadn’t occurred to me). It’s nice to think that we’re still capable of doing the “impossible”. We can be really good when we put our minds to it. Although I fear that that’s not very often………

      I’m with you as far as “amateurs only” in the Olympics. The Russians, of course, never adhered to that and I suspect the Chinese wouldn’t have, either. In any event, I think that that boat has sailed. We’re stuck with watching the NBA play at an international event. I think that’s why I prefer watching the women compete. For some reason, it just doesn’t seem as bad. They’re certainly more emotional about it. Not to mention the fact that they’re winning most of the U. S. medals.


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