In what is almost an echo of their inaugural season, the Alaska Wild are having a rough year. At this time in their opening season, the Wild were winless and on their third coach. Similarly, the Wild are winless this season and have had countless people playing in the quarterback position. It’s been even more difficult given the success of Anchorage’s other professional sports team, the Alaska Aces, who are currently playing in the Kelly Cup championships. People are less interested in the Wild, who are losing, when the Aces are having a good year.
But, as a photographer, it is easy to forget such things. When I look back at the thousand or so images I capture in a game, I am not seeing the cold statistics of a 0-8 season, I see tailgating, defensive tackles swarming an opposing running back, spectacular runs and catches, and fans having a blast. While photos may speak a thousand words, they often tell a different story than what the numbers do.
That is quite simply because arena football is about much more than just a winning season. When I lived in the Twin Cities, I loved to go see the St. Paul Saints games much more than Minnesota Twins games. The Saints played outdoors, they engaged the fans in games and activities, and the stadium was much more intimate. Even though the Sullivan Arena is larger than most IFL venues, it still provides an opportunity for fans to be close to the action – especially if you are in the Sideline Club. The team at Alaska Professional Sports does a great job in lining up entertainment, from halftime singers and the Wild Fire dance team, to silly boxing matches and relay races, eating contests, and the Ball Babes throwing out freebies during the game.
Speaking to many of the loyal fans, I get the impression that they go to have fun, and that’s what keeps them coming back. They gather early to tailgate out in the parking lot, cheer on the team and taunt the visiting team during the game, and stick around after to talk to players and get their autographs. I know that the kids have a blast, too, with little girls with play pom-poms dancing along with the Wild Fire or little boys gathering in the end zone in the hopes of catching an errant ball. Quite simply, even in a losing season, the Alaska Wild still provide the photographer lots of great material to capture, and the fans a lot of fun for what is a relatively inexpensive four hours of entertainment.
Here are some highlights from the Wild’s game against the Billings Outlaws, who, upon coming into town, were leading the IFL with a record of 8-1. It was the worst loss of the season for the Wild, with a final score of 73-18. I managed to capture all three of the Wild’s touchdowns. To purchase photos from this game and others, go to my Printroom Alaska Wild site.
I have created a flash video highlighting the previous home games of the season, as well as the exhibition game at the Wasilla Sports Complex (aka “Sarah’s Sports Complex”) against the Fairbanks Grizzlies. Enjoy!