By D.X.D. Hall. August 4, 2017. CHARLOTTE, NC — Whether a budding sports journalist or an NFL football junkie remains to be seen, but one lucky bidder will win big at the 5th Annual “Rotary Charity Auction” hosted by The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock in the American Legion Building, August 19th, at 333 Wallingford Street, Blowing Rock.
COVER IMAGE: David Rogers (green shirt, far left of circle) participates in Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera’s press conference after training camp on Wednesday, August 2. Photographic image by Braxton Critcher for Blowing Rock News.
The “NFL/Carolina Panthers Media Experience” was initiated by Blowing Rock News editor and publisher, David Rogers, in collaboration with the Carolina Panthers’ front office media team.
Explained Rogers, who was recognized alongside Sports Illustrated, Washington Post and Fort Collins Coloradoan sports journalists in 2016 for “Best Writing” by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, “For anyone interested in NFL football, this could be one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences, because it is multi-dimensional. We are proud to be able to share this opportunity in benefit of Blowing Rock Rotary, and especially thankful to the Carolina Panthers for agreeing to host the experience.”
- The winning bidder will be credentialed as a media representative of Blowing Rock News for the last pre-season game of the Panthers vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 31st at Bank of America Stadium.
- Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 7:30 pm. The winner will arrive at Bank of Stadium with Rogers no later than 5:30 pm to go through pre-game orientation and game coverage preparations.
- The winner will assist Rogers in preparing potential story lines, reviewing player and team statistics and depth charts, injury reports, and player status for each team
- FIRST HALF:
- The winner will sit alongside Rogers on the front row of the Press Box, watching the game and making notes of special plays, performances and situations
- SECOND HALF:
- The winner will “shadow” Rogers on the field as photographer’s assistant. The Panthers require that he/she follow Rogers closely, carrying a light bag with an extra camera and at least one additional lens.
- Prior to the game, the winner will receive instructions on Rogers’ strategy as an NFL photographer, which requires frequent, fast-paced movements to various positions around the field in anticipation of the on-field action.
- The winner will receive basic camera instruction, if needed, and will be allowed to shoot part of the fourth quarter
- The winner will sit alongside Rogers in the Panthers’ interview room for head coach Ron Rivera’s post-game press conference
- After Coach Rivera’s press conference, the winner will accompany Rogers into the Panthers’ locker room to interview players
- The winner and Rogers will return to the press box to collaborate on writing the story and process photographic images
- The winner will share joint by-line credit for the story about the game published in Blowing Rock News. He will also receive joint photo credit for any photos that are used in the article and taken by the winner and Rogers.
- Another Blowing Rock News photographer will periodically take photos of the winner “in action” for the experience. These photos will be mounted and framed and presented to the winner at a later meeting of The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock. The mounting and framing has been arranged with Blowing Rock Frameworks and Gallery.
In announcing the prize, Rogers reported, “It is very important that the winner of this prize remember at all times that he or she, on this night at least, is NOT a fan, but a serious sports journalist. There are some professional standards that must be adhered to that are really pretty simple, and we will go over all of that with the winning bidder. The biggest things are no cheering in the press box or on the field, no asking for autographs, and no apparel with team logos.”
And there was Ben Roethlisberger playing catch, under the stadium grandstands.
Turning back to the game experience, Rogers observed that the Panthers playing the Steelers always seems to be special.
“Last time the Steelers were in Charlotte,” Rogers recalled, “a couple of hours before the game I was walking through the area between the press box elevator and the locker rooms, sort of in the bowels of the stadium, underneath the grandstands. And there was Ben Roethlisberger playing catch with a wide receiver. I walked right past him without saying a word, but let me tell you that I understand now why they call him ‘Big Ben.’ I felt dwarfed because he is such a big man.
“This is a special pre-season game. Not only is it the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it is the last chance for the younger players and even veteran players on the bubble for both teams to showcase their respective talents. After this game, the general managers and the coaches make their final roster cuts. Even though everyone knows that professional football is a business, this is a painful time because guys are competing for their livelihoods, as well as a chance to continue playing a game they love and may have played since Pop Warner or pee-wee football days, as grammar school kids. For some, it may be their last opportunity to play organized football on the highest level of the game.”
Although he is no longer a member of The Rotary Club of Blowing Rock, Rogers was the 2003 Blowing Rock “Rotarian of the Year.” He acknowledged that he still admires the terrific contributions that Rotary makes to the community in its support of various non-profit agencies in the High Country, as well as providing college scholarships to deserving graduates of Watauga High School.
This is someone’s chance to answer that question for themselves.
“I was motivated to put this special prize together,” he said, “simply because I wanted to contribute something valuable to Rotary’s great mission. A lot of people ask me what it is like to watch the game from the Press Box or to be able to shoot the game as a photographer on the field, along the sidelines or in the end zone. So with the help of the Panthers, we put this together. This is someone’s chance to answer that question for themselves.
“But this prize is even bigger than the experience because of what the prize winner’s monetary gift enables or adds to what Rotary can do,” observed Rogers. “There are so many human needs in Watauga County and the fact that Watauga is the third poorest county in the state in spite of the affluence we see in much of Blowing Rock really drives home the importance of what Rotary is doing in the High Country. Rotarians work hard at volunteering, as well as at fundraising for charitable causes. Locally, they have given or built things for the Town, as well as for the Parkway. The club is vigilant and always on the lookout for needs to be addressed. Often it is not just about money, but plain hard work.
“And you know what really drives the importance of our Rotary gifts home?” he asked, rhetorically, before answering, “No Rotarian gets paid. 100% of the proceeds from their fundraising events go to the supported charitable, non-profit or scholarship causes.”
Smiling, Rogers corrected himself.
“Well, it is not quite true that Rotarians don’t get paid,” he said, “because they are paid many times over with the satisfaction that they have helped a fellow human being, a member of the world community if not the High Country community. Service above self is its own reward.”