Kiss off, kiss cam

If you’ve been to a sporting event, you’ve no doubt seen the kiss cam, a segment during which two people presumed to know each other are invited to kiss on the video projected on the scoreboard, so that the team can cash the check from the jewelry store or other sponsor.

For the most part, it’s harmless. People particularly love the elderly smooching it up.

But occasionally, the roving camera person picks a couple that are brother and sister. Or, worse, total strangers. And same-sex couples? Rarely happens.

This is why the sports journalism website The Ringer is suggesting the kiss cam’s days are over, and launching an online debate.

Are they? Probably not. It’s the most popular in-game break at Target Field during Twins games.

“One of the main issues with the kiss cam is that there’s no way to opt into — or out of — it,” Britni de la Cretaz wrote Thursday in an article that’s launched a thousand horror stories.

If you want to to watch your favorite player or team in person, you’re also opening yourself up to being broadcast on the big board. Some people come up with contingency plans before going to games to avoid ending up on screen, like Arizona resident Ashley Gustaveson.

“There were plenty of times before [I got married] that I went to a game on a date and planned in advance how I would get out of kissing the guy in case we got on the Kiss Cam. Most plans involved mouthing, ‘He’s my brother,’” she says in a Twitter DM. “I also tried to not move very close to or overtly flirt with the guy next to me until after the Kiss Cam inning.”

Estrada told the L.A. Times in 2010 that “people are always asking me to be in other promotions, but nobody ever asks me to be in the [Lakers] Kiss Cam.” She speculated that was because “they know it only works if it’s spontaneous.” But what if that’s actually indicative of people having no desire to be featured on it?

“The kiss cam, for as innovative and novel as it was when it was developed, just doesn’t seem built to withstand the cultural shifts we’re witnessing,” she says.

A few years ago, Kiss Cam forced Gophers hockey fan Adam Martin to come prepared on Valentine’s Day.

  • Rob

    If a few birds were flipped at the kiss cam, that would say kiss off in a big way – and perhaps hasten the kiss cam’s demise.

    • I was thinking that too. But the person would almost certainly then be escorted out of the stadium.

      • jon

        Could the the bizarre relationship between government and leagues for stadium funding could provide some cover for a first amendment argument? (I’m sure some lawyer could argue it… successfully of course is the question…)

        Or you could just start with state funded university teams, university government links should give some cover…

        • Six Degrees of the government funding for a constitutional question would make my home vulnerable to anyone who wanted to put up a sign on it.

          I’m pretty OK with rules against offensive signs at a sporting event.

          • >>I’m pretty OK with rules against offensive signs at a sporting event.<<

            You'd have to define "offensive" first. A sign doesn't need profanities to be offensive to some.

          • Containing profanities is my definition

          • MikeB

            Like “Eliminate the Shift”

          • I think about bringing these sorts of signs all the time. But not this specific one. Eliminating the shift is a can of worms, man…

          • MikeB

            I’m ready to go to jail for it

          • I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, sir!

          • MikeB

            I may not have been clear in my remrk. To me eliminating the shift is obscene, offensive, reeks of fascism.

          • OH. I thought you were suggesting you yourself wanted to eliminate the shift. Then my (purported) Patrick Henry quote is withdrawn. I’m with ya! Tweak the rules, maybe, but you can’t ban something that’s as old as modern baseball without causing so many uninentional problems.

          • This is one I’ve been sort of thinking about. How would the Twins feel about a sign that I might hold up during the Kiss Cam (or any cam) that read “This Land Is Your Land > God Bless America”? Would that get me escorted out?

          • No. But it would help, probably if you put a Twins logo on it.

            The Minnesota Twins welcome the support from our guests as demonstrated by homemade signs and banners. To ensure that these articles do not distract others, we ask guests to adhere to the following guidelines: banners and signs may not contain advertising or carry disparaging or obscene messages; they may not cover any scoreboards, railings, existing advertising or LED boards; banners and signs may not be placed in the direct sightline of the batter and/or infringe on the sightlines of other guests during play. The Minnesota Twins request that all banners and signs pertain to the Twins or baseball, and reserve the right to permit or remove any sign or banner from Target Field at any time.

          • Yes, understood,

      • Rob

        Meh. A small price to pay, methinks, if it helps hasten the end of the dumb thing.

        • X.A. Smith

          Agreed—it’s only a Twins game. It’s not like it’s hard to get tickets.

    • Postal Customer

      One of the linked articles says a lesbian couple was “escorted” out of Dodger Stadium for kissing on the kiss cam. Their straight friends, who also kissed on cam, were allowed to stay. This happened in 2000 — some lady said she didn’t want her kids seeing “those kinds of people.”

    • Barton

      I did this at Kaufman Memorial once (KC Royals stadium) when I was at a game with my cousins (2013). I ignored the cam and my cuz’s and my face up on giant screen for as long as I could (and the crowd was starting to make “encouraging” noises). So both of us gave two big middle fingers each. No one escorted us out.

      • Jim in RF

        You’re a hero.

  • Postal Customer

    It should probably go away. But like most social change, it won’t start in Minnesota. Look for the kiss cam to die in NY and Calif first.

    • Interesting that the WNBA doesn’t do it. But the NBA, which owns the WNBA, does.

      • Erik Petersen

        I was wondering if ‘interesting’ was the right word, and I guess, yes, it is. Say the WNBA has a primary viewing demographic that’s a little non traditional. That demographic would be fine with a kiss cam, you’d think.

        • From the article:

          The WNBA’s Connecticut Sun also don’t include the feature at their games, but not because they think there’s anything inappropriate about their fans’ sexual orientation. “There are so many new and interactive things to do during timeouts [and] breaks—not to mention sponsored elements we need to cover—it’s just not something that has made the cut,” says Amber Cox, vice president of the Sun. “Plus, a real focus has been including more videos into games that highlight player personalities. We want to use the time we have with a captive audience to create off-the-court connections with our fans—especially those who might be attending for the first time.”

          Colás speculates that the kiss cam is still a staple in the NBA because it’s a more mainstream league than the WNBA, and teams expect to have more casual fans in attendance who might be looking for in-game entertainment that isn’t necessarily focused on the players. But he says he’d love to see the NBA go the same route as the WNBA and provide more in-game content that lets people get to know their favorite athletes.

          • Erik Petersen

            Well of course that’s what they’d say.

            I’d grant that the Sun there has articulated what appears to be a laboriously conceived strategy of what they do with video… but ya know, the fact remains kiss cam is conspicuously absent in the WNBA whereas every other college and pro venue in the country does it.

            Its the sexual orientation… gays kissing on camera would be too gay.

          • Erik Petersen

            The NHL is very progressive!

          • I would favor a return of the chicken dance and the Hormel Row of Fame.

          • Erik Petersen

            Yes, that’s the NHL. Ya figure the NHL is not terribly concerned about the potential their product becomes known as something that primarily gay people like.

  • MrE85

    If enough people bring in pre-made signs with profane comments about the national anthem and flash them at the Kiss Cam, it will go away very quickly.

    • And, again, since it’s a violation of the fan code of behavior at Target Field, they’d be thrown out.

      • Joseph

        What if they brought signs with pictures of athletes kneeling before the American flag? Would that be within the fan-code of behavior? It would still be controversial enough that the Kiss Cam would be quietly nixed and phased out.

  • Gary F

    Keep it and have fewer kids flossing.

    I’ve been to a few parks that have a computer generated bar and did the limbo. We could do that.

    • Barton

      I do like the “Circle Me Bert” as it requires a bit of consent from the person being “circled.” But I like the idea of the limbo too!

    • refereemn77

      I like the kids flossing. I think it gets them involved a bit, and we need more kids to want to go to ball games.

      However, how about adults flossing?!?! I would look like drunk spaghetti! I tried to do it once, and I swear I’m just not supposed to move that way.

  • I can’t seem to find the Roenick/Recce NHL bench kiss anywhere…

  • The absence of same-sex (or genderqueer, etc, you know what I mean – non-straight) couples on Kiss Cams is a problem, in 2018 and really this entire decade it’s been a pretty obvious oversight. And I don’t really know how to solve it. I’ve thought about it, talked with friends. None of us want to get RID of the kiss cam (hey, it was Buck O’Neil’s favorite between-innings entertainment, for one!). One idea would be for teams to change to an opt-in sort of thing with kiss cams, you could tag yourself online as willing to participate? Seems like something the Saints would be willing to try, if not MLB. I don’t think there would be many people who would abuse this, or use it to cause trouble. The biggest problem might be initially spreading awareness of it.

  • John Maddening

    The Minnesota RollerGirls have the “Hugs & High Fives Cam”, which can be hilariously awkward, but in different ways.

  • Guest

    What is wrong with a simple shake of the head to mean nope?

  • Angry Jonny