SANFL shoots itself in the foot

It is a sad day where a young man is taking photos for his blog site at a SANFL game, keen to support the competition that has meant so much to South Australia and football across so many years, but is asked to put the camera gear away as he may do a better job than those being paid for their services.

This was a incident that happened to me last weekend when I was asked to cease taking photos or at the very least reduce the size of my lens at the Port Adelaide, Adelaide game at Woodville Oval. Security were a little confused as to the rule, but were very keen on enforcing it to anyone with a camera in hand on Saturday. However they did go away and find some answers.

I’ve asked for clarity on the exact rule in regards to cameras and held off writing my thoughts on this topic until a response from the SANFL was provided. However after several attempts, a week later, no response was forthcoming.

Security were of the understanding that you could not use a camera with a lens bigger than 20mm without a media pass. It is also a requirement to be outside the fence while taking photos they said. This second piece of information bemused me as I’m not sure any spectator is allowed over the fence during game time, camera in hand or not.

For those of you who don’t know much about cameras, a 20mm lens is not overly large. That is a rule that sounds like it has been made by people with very little knowledge of the world of media or how to promote the competition and encourage people to engage with the game.

As to why this is a rule. Again, with no response from the SANFL, we have to go by security’s explanation on the day.

“They don’t want you taking the perfect shot and then putting it on your social media accounts and getting more clicks than official media photographers. The SANFL pay big bucks for official photographers and media rights.”

There was maybe one, possibly two official looking photographers visible at Woodville Oval on a dreary Saturday afternoon taking a shot or two for the paper perhaps or the SANFL website. I’d be reassessing where those big bucks are being spent if that indeed was the case.

The answer to all this is simple. The SANFL needs all the publicity it can get. It gets very little from the media in Adelaide, so it is up to people like me to promote it and to get stories and images out there. Surely if my photos happen to be better than the images of the SANFL contractors, maybe it’s a sign that they should be getting better photographers. Just a thought.

I love my SANFL footy, but have been pretty upset with the events of last weekend. It is a step backwards at a time where the competition must try everything to remain relevant in a saturated sporting environment.

How about a competiton for the best picture every round taken by someone in the crowd? Judging from those trying to get great shots on Saturday, you’d get a fairly healthy selection of images.

While on the topic of promotion of the game, a few Clubs are still falling behind with their social media responsibilities, particularly with their use of Twitter. West Adelaide is a prime example of this.


It’s another area the game has to get better at. Several Clubs have increased their social media presence this year and that’s great to see. Fans want to be able to click on stories about players, find out more about the history of the Club and see more previews of games. They also want updates during games and plenty of photo content.

Increasing this content doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise either. There are stacks of Uni students looking for a break into the industry and SANFL Clubs could be the perfect stepping stone for this.

So come on SANFL, let the fans be fans. An extra photo on the internet is not hurting anyone. Clicks of any SANFL content is promotion, whether it has been paid for or not. Open the game up and encourage the competition to be a feeder competition for jobs for both those on the field and for those off it. If we don’t encourage more young people or just people in general to attend games and talk about the competition, the future will look bleak.

Picture – Liam Thompson  

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