Jed Carlson column: Goal flops in 2020

Way back in December 2019 I wrote a column about how many games I saw throughout the year. I wanted to do better this year. Things certainly didn’t go as planned.
Things look much different in September as the Superior girls cross country team wear masks as they line up just before the gun is fired at the start of the race on Billings Drive in Superior. (Jed Carlson /

It's commonplace in sports to set goals — something to strive for. I set a goal for myself in 2020 and failed.

Way back in December 2019 I wrote a column about how many games I saw throughout the year. I was in attendance, at least for part of 293 sporting events last year. I wanted to do better this year. Things certainly didn’t go as planned.

The year started out strong. I saw the Spartans girls basketball team play some JV and varsity hoops, then went across the street to Wessman Arena to watch the Yellowjacket men play hockey on Friday, Jan. 3.

In January alone I was at 46 events. I kept up a pretty good pace, attending a total of 88 events through February. Things tend to slow a little in March as teams have dropped out of the playoffs by that point.

RELATED: Jed Carlson column: 'How many games do you go to every year?' This year I can actually give people an answer to that magic question.


Then the world changed. I remember watching an NBA game where the teams went in for halftime and never came back out.

A few things happened locally. I shot the Track-O-Rama and playoffs for the Friday Night Hoops League at the YMCA. On Saturday, March 14, I shot my kids' indoor soccer game, which was event 99.

Then sports stopped.

Nothing for the rest of March. Nothing in April. Nothing in May.

No frozen fingers trying to shoot baseball in 30-degree temperatures. No being super-overdressed for a softball game in Solon Springs because it was 20-degrees cooler in Superior when I left. No spring sports for all those seniors who worked their tails off to get to play their sport in an already limited spring season in the Northland.

We scrambled to fill the sports pages. We ran all-area teams, some postseason awards, things like that. By May, I was driving around looking for kids shooting hoops or playing football in parks. Those shots became the main art for the sports section.

On June 15, I finally got to event 100. After three full months, I shot 5 year olds playing baseball.

At that point I took what I could get. Little kid baseball dominated what I shot over the summer.


By the end of August, I began shooting tennis, golf and cross country for the high schools again.

September saw the return of football and volleyball for some of our schools. For me it was a little bit of a return to normal, even though I looked like a robber from "Cops and Robbers."
Photographer Jed Carlson stays bundled up while shooting a soccer match at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth in October. (Jed Carlson /

Sports in general have slowly returned. Some leagues played in bubbles. Others didn't stray too far from home.

Benches were spread out. No fans were in the stands. Old-school players made appearances in cutout form in baseball stadiums. Fans "Zoomed" into virtual crowds at basketball games.

Even Superior’s Otis (Niko Bojojevic) became a main storyline in the WWE, with a "Beauty and the Beast" style story.

Sports gave us the break we wanted from a daily life that was scary in so many ways.


So back to my goal: Needless to say I didn’t hit it. I finished the year with 191 events after shooting the Solon Springs girls basketball game with Butternut on Monday, Dec. 21. I’m OK with that. I really hope I can get to more games in 2021.

I realize that not everyone can get into games with the pandemic still going on, so I will do my best to bring you images that showcase local athletes working on achieving their goals.

Happy New Year everyone!

Jed Carlson joined the Superior Telegram in February 2001 as a photographer. He grew up in Willmar, Minnesota. He graduated from Ridgewater Community College in Willmar, then from Minnesota State Moorhead with a major in mass communications with an emphasis in photojournalism.
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