Picture perfect: 2023 sports photos of the year

In a year of highs and lows, Deseret News photographers were there to capture all of the action and the drama. Here are the best of the best

What makes a great sports photograph?

Well, it really depends on who you ask. But at the Deseret News, we pride ourselves on capturing the emotion of the game as much as key plays of the game.

But to be a great sports photographer, you need to understand the game, the players and the strategy in order to anticipate the critical, sometimes game-decisive moments.

The best of the best sports photojournalists visually tell the story with the key action plays and key reactions to those plays, in addition to the sporting event’s final outcome. But there are also humorous and subtle moments that occur before, during or after a game, like a coach giving a piece of her mind to a referee or a swimming coach getting pushed into a pool after a trophy presentation, that warrant visual documentation. It might be a quiet moment with beautiful light before player introductions at a Jazz game or the reaction of an RSL player begging his case to a referee.

While many great sports photographs are captured with long lenses from the sidelines, our photographers also anticipate emotional moments, often using wide-angle lenses, physically running out onto a field as the game ends to get extra close — close enough to capture tears of joy as well as tears of sadness.

Here’s a look back at 30 of our favorite sports moments from 2023 from our staff and contributing photographers.

Timpview’s Jalen Namulauti celebrates after beating Bountiful in the 5A high school football championship at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) takes the court before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
BYU basketball coach Mark Pope celebrates with fans after BYU’s win against San Diego State at BYU’s Marriott Center in Provo.
BYU basketball coach Mark Pope celebrates with fans after BYU’s win against San Diego State at BYU’s Marriott Center in Provo on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) falls on Memphis Grizzlies guard Vince Williams Jr. (5) during the game at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Action from the 2A boys cross-country state championship race at the Regional Athletic Complex in Rose Park on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
The Utes celebrate their 34-32 win against the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Maple Mountain goalie Anya Gulley tries to make a save on a shot by Bountiful in the 5A girls soccer championship in Sandy on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Green Canyon players celebrate their win over Park City in the 4A girls soccer state championship at America First Field in Sandy on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
BYU Cougars linebacker Harrison Taggart (11) celebrates the win over the Arkansas Razorbacks with BYU fames at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. BYU won 38-31. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
BYU wide receiver Chase Roberts makes a touchdown catch against Arkansas at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
BYU Cougars wide receiver Chase Roberts (2) makes a touchdown catch past Arkansas Razorbacks defensive back Jayden Johnson (8) at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. BYU won 38-31. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Utah Utes wide receiver Money Parks (10) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter in the football game against the Weber State Wildcats at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
Olympus High’s Hope Munson heads the ball during a girls varsity soccer game against Skyline at Skyline High School in Millcreek on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023. Skyline won 3-1. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Corner Canyon’s Bo Tate causes Bishop Gorman’s QB Micah Alejado to fumble during a nonleague football game at Corner Canyon High school in Draper on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News
A runner gets water at an aid station during the Deseret News Marathon in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 24, 2023. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Utah head coach Amy Hogue is soaked with water after winning the NCAA softball Super Regional between Utah and San Diego State.
Utah head coach Amy Hogue is soaked with water after winning the NCAA softball Super Regional between Utah and San Diego State at Dumke Family Softball Stadium in Salt Lake City on May 28, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
Game 3 of the 4A softball state championship between Bear River and Ridgeline at Gail Miller Field in Provo on Saturday, May 20, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News
Real Salt Lake defender Bryan Oviedo (3) reacts to a call as Seattle Sounders midfielder Kelyn Rowe (22) lies in the field during a MLS match between Real Salt Lake and the Seattle Sounders at America First Field in Salt Lake City on April 29, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
Stanford Cardinal forward Spencer Jones (14) and Utah Utes center Keba Keita (13) battle for a rebound as Utah and Stanford play in Pac-12 Tournament action at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 8, 2023. Stanford won 73-62. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Corner Canyon celebrates after winning the 6A boys basketball finals at the Dee Events Center at Weber State in Ogden on Mar. 4, 2023.
Corner Canyon players celebrate after winning the 6A boys basketball finals at the Dee Events Center at Weber State in Ogden on March 4, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
Utah’s Abby Brenner reacts after finishing her floor routine during a gymnastics meet against Arizona at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, on Friday, March 3, 2023. Utah won. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Lone Peak’s Jorge Suarez and his teammates cheer after a 3-pointer as they and Davis play in the quarterfinals of the boys high school basketball playoffs at the Dee Events Center at Weber State in Ogden on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Lone Peak won 54-52. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Viewmont’s Moses Espinoza-Owens (left) is thrown by Murray’s Isaac Orrock boys during the 5A state wrestling championships at the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News
Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen yells
Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen (23) celebrates during an NBA game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Feb. 23, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
Wrestler The Miz is introduced during the 2023 Ruffles All-Star Celebrity Game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
Judge Memorial coach Chad Starks is pushed into the pool after winning both the 3A boys and girls state swimming championships at the Stephen L. Richards Building in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News
Utah women’s basketball coach coach Lynne Roberts tries to make a point with a referee as the Utes host 14th-ranked Arizona.
Utah Utes head coach Lynne Roberts tries to make a point with a referee as the 10th-ranked Utes and the 14th-ranked Wildcats play in a thriller at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. Utah won 80-79. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Oregon Ducks guard Will Richardson (0) strips the ball from Utah Utes guard Lazar Stefanovic (20) during the game at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Utah Utes players pay tribute to Ty Jordan and Aaron Lowe during the fourth quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 109th Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. The Penn State Nittany Lions won 35-21. | Ben B. Braun, Deseret News
Utah Utes CB Zemaiah Vaughn (16) is called for pass interference on Penn State Nittany Lions WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith in the end zone as Utah and Penn State play in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Monday, Jan. 2, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News