Niche photojournalism is term that lives in history books and movies for most press photographers these days, especially those shooting for smaller news outlets.
Journalists are required to become experts in all coverage areas including sports which was previously and still (in some cases) demands a highly specialized, separate photographer.
Sports shooting requires a baser understanding of a game to write captions, and the ability to anticipate action so a pivotal moment isn’t missed. These assignments take flexibility, planning, luck and exceptional spacial awareness.
Nearing the end of a season, a newsroom’s coverage of games largely depends on area teams' or an individual’s standings and/or wins and loses. The photo staff is alerted of possible future schedules and must remain on standby until plans are confirmed. Sometimes we get more than a week notice, sometimes we have a mere day or two to plan. If it’s an out of town assignment, like the UIL Softball Championship Tournament in Austin, staff needs to arrange lodging, transportation, house (pet) sitting, schedule reorganization, etc.
Once on assignment, photographers need to plan out the best locations to get shots needed for the paper. Sometimes this leaves us in a vulnerable space. For example, during the softball tournament, I positioned myself behind third base. The spot is particularly susceptible to foul balls. I saw one speeding toward my head through the lens. In what I’ve been told was an impressive matrix style maneuver, managed to tuck my lens aside, roll onto my elbow and turn my head to avoid the ball.