• Rick Sack

The Emotions of Sport


As I watched an intense high school volleyball match this week, I was reminded how much emotion is involved in high school sports. Most athletes and fans run through a full range of emotions during a contest from joy to anxiety to sorrow. There is no doubt in my mind that the emotional state of an athlete can affect their performance either helping or hurting.

The volleyball match I referred to above is a case in point. One team dominated the first two sets, their emotions in full display coming out in the energy they displayed. But the other team turned their own feelings of concern, which had diminished their results, around in the next two sets to force a decisive fifth set. Both teams played the fifth set with energy, but the home team regained the momentum to finish with a win. It wasn't hard to read who won the match by the looks on the players' faces.

It is not just the athletes' emotions that are on display either. The fans in the stands, whether they are parents of athletes, students, or other adult fans can be just as emotional as the players on the field or court. The noise can be deafening as they root for their team to win. One of the things I enjoy most about photographing high school sports events is the electric atmosphere at the venue, whether in a packed gymnasium or stadium.

Although I am known primarily for my photos of athletes in action, some of my favorite shots are candid pictures of the emotional state of an athlete or fans cheering on their team. I have been around high school sports for over 60 years and a lot about the games and life in general has changed in that time. But the one thing that hasn't changed and I hope never will is the emotional energy present in a high school game.


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