Note from Diana Hadley

Important Information about IHSAA Tournaments

The actual Groundhog Day and the movie Groundhog Day describe the time and the situation that occurs frequently in February as sectional competition begins. This week has revisited an issue regarding student photographers’ credentials at IHSAA tournaments. 

An explanation that “school papers shall not be granted tickets” has been misinterpreted to mean that high school publications staffs cannot have credentials to cover IHSAA events.

It is important to note that  “credentials” are not  “ complimentary tickets” to the game (as far as the IHSAA is concerned). A credential allows the student access to the floor (or other restricted area) to cover the event, but the student or his staff may have to purchase it.
Some athletic departments provide complimentary tickets to members of their schools publications staffs, but the number varies among schools and tournament sites. Some tournament hosts allow one or two sets of credentials per publication at the sectional, regional and semi-state level, but the number is a host decision at the sectional, regional, semi-state level. 
The IHSAA guarantees one floor pass per school for state finals. (Some high school staffs partner with their local professional papers to get additional credentials. Then they share photos to benefit the school and local publication—in addition to an extra photo credit for the student.)
The 2015-16 Winter Bulletin (available as a PDF online) still includes language that IHSPA helped negotiate in the 19980s.

School Photographers – School photographers may be granted credentials under the following guidelines.     Sectionals, Regionals, Semi-States, State a. Each school competing in an IHSAA tournament may obtain one (1) student photographer floor pass for the contest in which their school is participating for the school’s yearbook and/or newspaper staff. b. The photographer should be dressed appropriately and ‘neutrally’ (not in blatant school colors, hats, etc.) where he/she is working. c. The photographer shall not display conspicuous partisan support during the contest. d. The photographer shall avoid contact with players and coaches and inappropriate involvement with the crowd during the contest. The photographer shall not interfere with the action of the contest. f. Advanced requests for photographer credentials must be filed with the center principal for sectionals, regionals or semi-states and with the IHSAA for the state finals no later than five (5) days prior to the day of the tournament. g. Failure to follow these guidelines will cause the school to lose its photographers privileges for that contest. (p. 28-29) 

The opportunity to cover tournaments is an educational opportunity and great fun, but it is important to review the rules above. The high school journalists who work on the floor of tournament games represent their school and scholastic journalism in general. 

Also make a special note that credentials must be requested five days before the tournament. Building a relationship with the athletic department to make sure the staff meets that deadline is important because it means that after winning a tournament on the weekend the request should be in the works the following Monday morning.

Good luck to all your schools in competition and to your photographers who will preserve the memories for your schools.

Diana Hadley
Executive Director, Indiana High School Press Association
317.341.4360
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