When not photographing illicit fuel refineries controlled by Nigerian warlords, or teaching for the Program of Narrative and Documentary Practice at Tufts, Samuel James (A’10) is apparently bringing an old and classic feel back to sports.
Last week, we heard from Gary Knight – a renowned photojournalist and instructor for the Advanced Narrative and Documentary Program – that Sam was spending time in England photographing professional soccer with a speed graphic (pictured below).
When the young photographer showed up to stadium grounds with the old clunky camera, he was initially welcomed with laughter from sports photographers using state-of-the-art DSLRs. In no time, however, Sam won their hearts and praise, and he produced some truly amazing photos for the May issue of Harper’s Magazine.
Now, while Sam’s story is fascinating, I was frankly more interested in what he had the opportunity to witness in England… And bear with me, because I’m about to attempt a sports comparison that may well be incomparable to anything in American Sports.
Across the pond, the Barclays Premier League hosts the top professional English football clubs in the country. It is composed of twenty teams and is the most-watched football league in the world.
For those of you that don’t know, soccer around the world functions on a promotion and relegation system that is vastly different from anything in American sports – even Major League Soccer. That’s because, the three lowest placed teams in the top league are relegated (demoted) to second-division soccer to make room for the three best teams in a lower division.
That’s sort-of like the Brooklyn Nets, the Lakers and the 76ers having to play in the D-League next year to make room for the three best development teams…
Here’s where it gets interesting and where – as Sam puts it – millions of fans across the world… have been left to marvel at one of the most baffling and unprecedented stories in the annals of sports.
Leicester City, a no-name team that won promotion to the Premier League in 2014 – just to barely fight off relegation in 2015 – is now on the brink of winning the 2016 Premier League title.
I lost you? All I get was a shrug?
Well, picture the Cleveland Browns – who have NEVER competed in a Super Bowl and finished next-to-last in the 2015 NFL season. Now picture them winning the Super Bowl next February…
This still doesn’t do Leicester justice. The current odds that the Browns win the next Super Bowl: 200-1. The odds at the beginning of the Premier league season that Leicester City win the title: 5,000-1.
- The Loch Ness monster being discovered (500-1).
- Kim Kardashian being the US president (2,000-1).
- Elvis being alive (2,000-1)
I could continue to bore you with all the reasons why this is so remarkable, but instead I’ll direct the truly interested to this BBC article “explaining the full Leicester City story to Americans.” In the meantime, I just want to tell Sam how very jealous I am that he was potentially witnessing sports history!