Last Saturday the Stanford Blood Center and the Sharks Foundation held a blood drive at the Shark Tank. The draw for the blood drive was that anyone who tried giving blood would be let in to see the Sharks morning practice skate. Not having given blood in over a year, and seeing a nice reward in getting to watch the morning skate, I went with my friend Sagar. We made early appointments so we wouldn’t miss any of the practice, and arrived at 8:00am. The blood drive was set up right at the north entrance of the Tank, with about 16 mostly empty donation stations when we arrived. We filled out our forms and were seen by the staff right away in little makeshift private rooms to do the preliminary checkup making sure we’re good to give blood today. I learned that this donation was my 1 gallon donation, which it would seem is kind of a big deal – I’m told I get a keychain for it.
After giving a pint of blood I made my way to the rest station table, where I ate more than my share of delicious cookies. We were informed by others at the table that the practice wouldn’t start until 10:30, but that we could sit inside to make room at the rest station. Sagar and I walked around a bit before going inside, but when we finally did enter, there were only two others in the entire stadium and the lights were just coming on. It was a pretty cool moment watching the lights come up in the empty house.
As we sat waiting for 10:30 to roll around we got to watch some maintenance guys in action, one appeared to be fixing a panel in a luxury box
and another seemed to be checking the temperature of the ice.
Gradually more and more donors came into the stadium, and eventually the assistant coach leading practice came out on the ice.
Marleau was the first guy out on the ice at around 10:15, working on his wrist shots.
They did their usual drills – passing, shooting, face-off, and tip drills, sending a few souvenirs into the stands for us.
Soon after the practice started I was approached by an usher and told I couldn’t use a lens over 6 inches (see rant below) so I was soured from shooting the practice. It was a very quick practice, over by 10:45. Sadly only 15 minutes for those who entered at the supposed 10:30 start.
As the last players were slowly getting off the ice, Sagar overheard that some of the players were greeting the donors back at the blood drive, so we headed over to catch a glimpse of the players. Ryane Clowe, Jamal Mayers, Douglas Murray, Scott Nichol and Niclas Wallin were walking among the donors thanking them, taking photos with them, and signing autographs for the crowds that had gathered.
Sagar and I moved to a place where we could get some good shots, and once again, an usher came up to me and told me I couldn’t use my lens unless I had a media pass. Then Sagar tried to give me one of his lenses that was just about 6 inches, the usher stared us down and told us it was too long. When we argued and said the lens is 6 inches she told us we could use it, but we couldn’t zoom because it’s longer than 6 inches when zoomed. I scoffed at the lady and the thought of her keeping an eye on us to make sure we didn’t zoom the lens. At this point I was done trying to take photos at the event. She attempted to make amends by offering to get Wallin to turn around for a photo, but I wasn’t interested. I just wanted some candid shots of the players being awesome to the donors who were being awesome.
At normal Sharks games, I completely understand and respect the 6-inch lens rule. According to the HP Pavilion Rules & Regulations page:
“Cameras: Guests are permitted to take still photographs during Sharks games. However, use of camera equipment may not infringe upon the comfort, safety or convenience of fellow guests. So as not to block the view of our guests, lenses exceeding six inches in size aren’t permitted during Sharks games, except by accredited members of the media.”
When I was first told not to use my long lens, I was watching the morning practice skate – a very low key event, with plenty of open seats so I don’t really see how I would have infringed upon the comfort, safety or convenience of my fellow 150 or so guests. Add in that in the two previous morning skates I’ve attended, I popped out the lens and had no issues whatsoever with the ushers. I’ll accept that perhaps I was obstructing someones’ view, but I’m sure it was just a more strict usher than previous practices and I’ve let it go.
The second time, however, I think was absolutely absurd – being told not to use my long lens in the lobby of the building, of a blood drive, after the practice was over, and in a secluded area away from the crowds. Then being told that we could use the 6-inch lens, but not zoom it, come on lady. Yes, the rule is vague, is it 6 inches un-zoomed or zoomed? When we asked her if she had her rulebook on her so we could see the rule, she said she didn’t have it. I’m pretty confident that the rule is 6 inches un-zoomed. As tempting as it was to have her get her supervisor and have them show her rules and just how wrong she was, I figured that would be a pretty jerk move. I imagine the lady got the crap end of the stick and had to come in probably at 6 or 7am on what would normally have been a day off for her, so she was cranky and just didn’t know the rules and forgot her rulebook.
We stuck around a while afterward when Sagar saw an old friend of his who was giving blood, and went back in the stadium to find the Colorado Avalanche practicing. I found it surprising that they would allow Sharks fans to watch their opponents practice – if Sharks fans weren’t such a classy bunch, I’d expect nonstop booing and hazing. We stuck around long enough for Sagar to take some pictures of his friend and headed home.
See all of my photos from the event here.
See the Sharks blog on the event here.
See Sagar’s blog of the event here.
Schedule an appointment to save lives here.