While most people were watching the 2020 Pro Bowl from their couches, camerawoman Elaine Rom was documenting the game.
Rom, who films “Monday Night Football” for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), was invited to work the Pro Bowl. She operated camera three and was responsible for capturing all of the game-time action that took place on the right side of the field past the 35-yard line.
Rom was studying television and film at Towson University when she was introduced to the sports production industry.
“My junior year I met a woman who was a camerawoman,” said Rom. “She shot the Orioles games and she had a bunch of people talk to her class about working in television, and I attended it. I was blown away by the people who worked in sports production. I inquired about an internship and she had one sport left with the Orioles.”
While touring Oriole Park at Camden Yards on the first day of her internship, Rom noticed the camera crew setting up their equipment.
“I saw the camera people building their cameras and I literally said, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” said Rom. “It was like one minute into walking out onto the field. I knew immediately. They said, ‘You’ll have to do the internship next year,’ and I committed to another year. By the time I graduated from college, I was a full-time freelancer.”
She has been working Orioles games since 1996, right after Cal Ripken’s famous 2,131 consecutive-game streak.
“Every day was an event,” remembered Rom. “People were lined up outside and they would run down to the field just to get a glimpse, and every game was sold out. That got me hooked, you know?”
Rom has been present for many famous Orioles moments, including Eddie Murray’s 500th home run in September 1996.
The Orioles were winning, the stands were full, and although the times have changed, Rom is still excited to be a part of capturing those moments.
“I love that sports is unscripted and you don’t know what’s going to happen in a game,” said Rom. “We have to tell that story. Whatever happens, you have to be ready and prepared to cover it.”
Rom has also been behind the camera for other local teams. Her resume includes work for the Washington Capitals, the Washington Wizards, college teams, boxing, and she was even asked to film an arm wrestling competition.
While it may seem like the perfect job, Rom said it isn’t always glamorous.
“It’s a lot more labor-intensive than people realize,” said Rom. “A lot of times I tell people we are more like roadies or movers and we shoot a game in the middle. It’s like a circus.”
Rom and crew members are responsible for building their own cameras, running their own cables and capturing shots of the sidelines, coaches, and crowds before each game.
Though football is her favorite sport to shoot, Rom said it is also the most challenging.
“Football is hard because it's such a complex sport and there are so many things going on and you have responsibility for all the scenarios,” said Rom. “Hockey is pretty hard because the puck moves really fast, and from a technical standpoint, that is hard to shoot. From a mental standpoint, football is a challenge.”
She is also responsible for capturing the action within the stands.
“People just don’t realize how many cameras we have, and there is nowhere to hide in the stadium,” said Rom. “I have fun searching the crowd for funny things.”
From people struggling to put on ponchos in the rain, to shirtless men climbing flag poles, Rom has captured it all. Many of her clips have made the ESPN morning highlights.
“There was a guy at a Florida State game, the book guy I think he was called. They were getting totally blown out. He had his shirt off. He was sitting by himself up in the sun reading a book called ‘Dark Places,’” said Rom.
Rom didn’t expect the clip to go anywhere, but she continued to film the man.
“I kept shooting it and my director was like, ‘I am not going to take,’” said Rom. “I told him it was a total blowout and everyone had already changed the channel. Finally, he took it and it was on Twitter, and the guy was interviewed during the game. I never thought that would be a big deal.”
Rom said whether it is a moment in the stands or a big play, being a part of sports history is the best part of her job.
“I love being a part of history and working games where history is being made,” said Rom.