Windy City SYC Day 3 | Once more unto the light
I will admit that by the third day of the Windy City Fencing SYC five weeks ago, I was utterly exhausted. As much as I love doing what I do with a camera in hand, the lack of sleep (four hours the previous two nights each), and especially the intensity of shooting the day before, definitely took a toll on me both physically and mentally. Nevertheless, I had a job to complete; “Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.” (Tennyson.)
Mercifully, Day 3 was much tamer than Day 2. With fewer competitors and the Grand Ballroom partitioned to accommodate an ophthalmology convention, I was allowed to relax a bit and slow down. It became apparently to me that I was not the only one feeling fatigued from the long weekend. Some parents looked as drained of energy as I felt. I cannot begin to fathom just how enervated the referees and bout committee must have felt, though. They are the unsung heroes of any fencing tournament, often being under-appreciated and sometimes the target of ridicule and hostility. We must all not forget that without the referees, bout committee, and tournament organisers, there would be NO tournament what so ever.
The same goes for the fencers who show up to compete. By definition, a fencing tournament is a competition of fencers. They are the reason why the tournament occurs in the first place, and as such they, too, should be afforded some respect. As an observer present to photo-document the decisive moments, there have been unfortunate times at a tournament where I have seen an individual being utterly disrespectful to another; from referee to fencer, fencer to referee, coach to referee, coach to parent, parent to referee, and yes, parent to photographer (it happens, but rarely, and I often turn the other cheek). I believe that respect must be mutual by all and to all. It is only through everyone coming and working together, leaving their egos outside of the venue, that a fencing tournament can proceed rightfully. Otherwise, it seems rather hypocritical in a sport where the competitors are mandated by the rules to salute one another before and after each bout. This is one reason why I do not put up any barriers in the fencing realm. So long as I am afforded a modicum of respect, I will associate with anyone willing to accept my hand in friendship—parent, coach, referee, organiser, fencer—no matter of club affiliation or rivalry.
After toiling through Days 1 and 2, I had finished and published the images from Day 3 over a week ago. In total, I delivered 1044 photographs to Windy City Fencing: 303 from the first day, 384 from the second, and 357 from the third. This may very well be my largest volume for a single set to date. It does amaze me how I am still able to go out and shoot on a regular basis since then; somehow, the experience did cause me to burn out completely. Of course, I have been shooting much more street ever since and only an hour or so of a collegiate tournament at Northwestern University last week. More on that another day, though.