Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Fan Fest, Part 1

Back in late March and early April, the NCAA Basketball Tournament Final Four came to Phoenix and with it, the Fan Fest. We are fortunate, living in Phoenix, to have been the host city for Super Bowls, an MLB All-Star Game, an NBA All-Star game and now a Final Four. With each of those events (except the NBA All-Star game), the league (or NCAA in this case) has sponsored an event for kids of all ages to enjoy the sport and the history of the competition. I have been to all these fan events including twice to the NFL Experience preceding the Super Bowl — and have shared those photos with you at the time.

My little buddy, Johnny, wanted to attend this one and I was mildly interested — so we went to the Convention Center in downtown Phoenix. I did not take my DSLR camera (I should have) so I had to depend on my iPhone, which did a serviceable job recording the event. Here is the trophy to be awarded to the winner of the tournament which eventually turned out to be the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Most of the Fan Fest was a marketing opportunity for large corporations, especially those that have some connection to sports. Here was a booth from Powerade, a sports drink manufactured and marketed by the Coca-Cola Company. The booth was set up to take photos of the fans — that's Johnny shyly holding a basketball while the shutter snapped.

The result, a bored kid in the foreground and an old man taking photos with his iPhone in the background.

The whole main exhibit hall was set up with opportunities for attendees to try out their skills in the sport of their choice. This challenge was dribbling a basketball around stationary defenders (who also had baseballs?).

I loved this guy (in the red shirt) who sank his basket and seemed to be saying, "Yes, I still got it". Meanwhile the kid behind him is simply overjoyed that his shot went in.

This was really cute — Capital One (credit card company) had a special studio set up with multiple cameras whose images would be stitched together by computer into a 360° shot. Kids of all ages could have such a photo taken which was then shown on a big-screen TV just outside the booth — animated with the camera angle circling around them. Usually, the helpers tried to get the participants to jump up in the air — these kids didn't get it but their resulting shot was incredibly cute.

Incidentally, I took a shot of their 360° image on the TV but the result from my iPhone looked just like this image — no need to bore you with two shots that look the same.

Baseball? I thought this Fan Fest was for basketball. Actually this sport was Whiffle Ball (you remember the plastic ball with holes in it), presumably so no one would get hurt.

The iPhone was tricked and focused on the net rather than the players — but I kinda liked the artistic look of this shot. It's okay if you disagree and jump to the next one.

Now golf? It was becoming obvious that the sponsors wanted a variety of participatory sports so as to not bore the patrons (mostly kids) — who seemed to really be in the swing of things.

Next up, hockey. The objective was to hit the puck at a target — much easier said than done.

And here we have the Quarterback Challenge. Each amateur QB tried to throw the football through one of the numbered circles. If successful, he or she would be awarded the number of points displayed. I did not see any successful tosses during the brief time I stood here.

The next station was for receivers. This was the mechanical QB. The white disks spun at a high rate of speed and when the attendant pulled the trigger, the football engaged the disks and off it went. Note that one disk is offset at an angle to impart rotation to the football, which is what a good quarterback does naturally as well.

The throw from the mechanical QB was generally going to the same spot, where a young receiver should dive for it and land on the inflated landing area. This kid made a nice catch.

Last for today is the soccer area where kids attempt to hit targets in the goal. This is also a lot more challenging than it looks.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com