A generational battle for the ages

At #ATPIWC19, three Mac photographers try to tell age-old story the way Louis Deluca would have told it

Risa Darlington-Horta, Stella Shenkman and Dave Winter, MacJournalism Sports Team

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ARLINGTON — We entered the MAC to take pictures just like we do so often back in Austin on our home campus, but when we entered the Maverick Activities Center, we were not confronted with a stage filled with performing fine artists but rather a brightly lit, giant basketball court with two pairs of full-size basketball courts divided by a huge net and above them, on a second floor, an oval-shaped track where runners could run without fear of being hit by a stray bullet pass from the basketball players below.

The scene was teeming with activity, but mere seconds after surveying the scene, only two steps past the entrance, Louis Deluca, a veteran Dallas photojournalist with an amazing reputation and even better portfolio of images, had found the subject that had the most potential: a father and son playing one-on-one on a half-court in the far corner of the gym. There, he said pointing to them playing, was an opportunity to tell a great story.

We three MacJournalism photographers who were taking Deluca’s sports photography class at the Association of Texas Photography Instructors Winter Conference were not surprised that Deluca would find this subject compelling. At the beginning of the class that Deluca was teaching with fellow sports photography expert Steve Hamm, we were treated to a riveting slide show of Deluca’s best baseball images that was set to music. The slide show began and ended with a compelling image of a father and son sharing their love for baseball with each other.

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We were eager to prove Deluca right so we immediately went over to the father and son and asked them if we could take pictures of them playing. After the father granted us permission, we watched their game unfold and observed the complicated interplay of a dad sharing his love of sport with his son.

At times, the father would back off and let his son succeed at shooting, or driving to the basket, or rebounding. At other times, he would make the imbalance of their size, experience and playing ability unmistakable, swatting a shot out of the air with the ease of Godzilla crushing a plane without lifting his feet. At other times, the father would stop the game to teach his son one of the finer points of playing basketball.

When the boy made a basket, his face lit up, and he would clap his hands quickly. It was a joy specific to this moment but also had a universal truth that anybody who has played a sport against their father would recognize and understand immediately.

The boy would have many of these joyous moments, but it was clear as the game unfolded that they would be isolated moments in a game the father was destined to win.

Afterward, we talked with the father and son and asked them if they wanted copies of the photos you see here.

We asked the boy if he’d even beaten his dad. He shook his head no. And then the father jokingly boasted that he never would either.

Without hesitating, we told the boy that time was on his side and that he just needed to keep playing. We are pretty sure he will. He was beaten but not discouraged. Another game. Another day. Some day, another outcome.

Risa Darlington-Horta
As dad puts on the breaks slightly, as son accelerates to the basket hoping to shoot before the block attempt he is anticipating can get to him.

Dave Winter
One way for the son to get a shot off is to let it fly from beyond the 3-point arc. To get the long-distance shot off requires the son to launch into the shot with his entire body.

Risa Darlington-Horta
Son’s slight grimace betrays his determination to succeed and perhaps his awareness that defense is futile against his dad’s superior size, experience and ability.

Dave Winter
Dad pulls no punches on his son’s shot attempt this time, virtually palming it out of the air. Like dads playing against their sons across all times and places, this dad alternated between brutally tough D and letting his son shoot uncontested.

Dave Winter
Son hits the hardwood after his most recent shot attempt was soundly rejected. His smile makes it clear he is not giving up any time soon … or ever.

Risa Darlington-Horta
Son is all-in in this effort to retrieve a lost ball. The ball on the floor is one time the son might have an advantage, but his effort to gain possession falls short this time.

Dave Winter
Son wears a look of determination during a stoppage in play. The struggle to beat your dad in basketball is real.

Dave Winter
Like the uncontested shot he’s taking on this possession, the joy of having a little space to shoot is impossible to miss.

Risa Darlington-Horta
Son adopts a slight Michael Jordan-esque expression as he drives the basket a few steps ahead of his dad, who decided this possession was one for matador (not monster) defense.

Stella Shenkman
With today’s games over, father and son share some rest and conversation before departing the Maverick Activities Center.

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