Every Fall I shoot a few college football games and I never get much out of it, monetarily. So why do it? First off - let's talk about why NOT to shoot it. Shooting football is difficult and expensive. Sports shooting demands some of the most expensive equipment around, and football especially so. The game action moves very fast and there are lots of people running around in front of you blocking the action so having the fastest glass and the fastest auto-focus helps out. Even with field-side access you have to stay pretty far away, and when the action gets close, you generally want to move farther away lest you get overrun by a receiver flying out of bounds as fast as he can! (with helmet, pads, and spikes - you don't stand much of a chance.)
A standard setup to go shoot a football game is two high-speed bodies (like the Canon 1-D) and four fast lenses (400/2.8, 70-200/2.8, 24-70/2.8, 16-35/2.8) So around $15,000 - $20,000 of gear, depending on what else you add. I've never shown up with that much gear but I've often rented parts of that kit to get as close as I can. The game takes about 3 hours but you want to be there a little early and stay a little later, so really it eats half a day.
Then, let's talk about the editing time! Editing 600 - 1,200 images takes a fair amount of time.
Did I mention that it doesn't pay well? So why do it? There are a couple reasons:
First of all, it keeps me fresh and on my toes. Shooting football is good preparation for shooting a party or a wedding or anything else that moves fast and has no second chances. There's no second chance in shooting sports and that's a good mindset to be in for a lot of photography.
Second of all, it's fun! I'm a college football fan and it's nice to get a third perspective on the game. (First perspective: watching on TV. Second perspective: Watching format he stands) Being on the field is different from being in in the stands. You're really in touch with the flow and the electricity of the game. The view is often better from the stands, but the energy of being on the sidelines is better. By the way, I'll never understand those "special" people who are wandering around the sidelines because they won a contest or know somebody or whatever and are standing around, not paying attention, or texting. How can you not be riveted to the game? That's why you came, right?
Third, I'm a huge Cal Poly fan and letting the Athletic Department use my images is a small way to give back. Cal Poly contributed greatly to my current situation in life and the least I can do is give a little back. Sure - I never got much from the Athletic Department while I was in school, but this is a way to give back indirectly.