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Is the selfie overtaking the autograph as must-have memorabilia?

My greatest brush with greatness came on April 12, 1987, while attending my first Chicago Bulls game. There was a special promotion where you could have your picture taken with your favorite player before the game. Of course, this is well before the team's championship years, when there was only one player with whom anyone wanted to have his picture taken -- Michael Jordan.

The Cliff's Notes version of the story has me waiting in line for two hours and thankfully getting shuffled into Jordan's line. The Polaroid photograph of a gangly 16-year-old me and His Airness sitting on a table on the baseline at the old Chicago Stadium is one of my most prized possessions. It would be one of the first things I would grab if my house caught fire.

In the wake of meeting my idol, all anyone asked was whether I got his autograph. Why in the world would I need Jordan's autograph? I had photographic evidence that I met him.

For some, collecting autographs of favorite athletes and actors is a hobby -- and it can also be big business. As a youngster, I never really got into collecting autographs. Interestingly enough, the first autograph I ever got was from Camp Point's Rick Reuschel when he appeared in a shoe store in downtown Galesburg in the late 1970s.

These days, it's easier than ever to connect with your favorite athletes and entertainment stars. You can follow them on Twitter and track them via their fan pages on Facebook. Sure, you can get the old-school autograph if you want, but more and more people are asking their favorites to stop and take selfies with them. What a great idea!

A selfie that Quincy's Jamie Ehrhart took with Sergio Garcia at the PGA Championship popped up on my Twitter feed earlier this week. I loathe Garcia for a number of reasons, but the photo of him and Ehrhart made me hate him a little less. Seeing the photo also got me to thinking: Is the selfie the new form of an autograph?

Ehrhart, a standout golfer at Quincy Notre Dame High School who now attends Saint Louis University, knows what she's doing when it comes to the selfie. Her Twitter feed includes selfies of her with Ricky Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Ben Crane, Henrik Stenson, Jason Day and Quincy's own Luke Guthrie. There are older shots of her with Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald.

Ehrhart has also collected autographs along the way. She couldn't decide which was better.
"That's a tough one," she said. "Sometimes they will sign but say they don't have time for a picture. I've been taking pictures with players since I was 9. I print them out and have them sign the picture the next time I go to a tournament."

Donald, who is Ehrhart's favorite golfer, eventually signed the photo she took with him, giving her the best of both worlds.

To me, the selfie is worth more than an autograph. Sure, a photo can easily be doctored with things like Photoshop, but what would possess anyone to fake a selfie with a star? I can see why someone might want to forge someone's signature because that autograph could be sold one day.

The next time I see Michael Jordan, I'll have to ask him to stop for a selfie. When I get it, I guess I'll have to grab my phone, too, in case of a fire.
Article source-- dobrien@whig.com/221-3370

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