Kiss cam changes prove necessary

After the New York Mets’ announcement last week that they would stop featuring opposing players on their kiss cam due to fan complaints of the tradition being homophobic, I had one reaction.

‘Seriously? These fans need to chill out.’

Kiss cams have been around since the 1990s at sports venues ranging from Citi Field to our very own Marano Campus Center Arena during men’s ice hockey games. The Laker kiss cam even features opposing players during hockey games, where the camera finds opposing players in their tunnels. This has been happening for years. The practice is just part of the routine. Whether it started out as a dig against the LGBT community or not, now it is just a way to mess with opposing players trying to focus on the game at hand.

It’s a “gotcha” moment. Nothing more serious.

Then the debate added another layer at the Carrier Dome on the campus of Syracuse University. My defense of the kiss cam as a harmless tradition that should be left alone changed.

Following a letter to the editor written by a fan to Syracuse’s Post-Standard, the school suspended its kiss cam for the school’s football game against Central Michigan. The letter claimed that twice during the school’s football game against Wake Forest, instances occurred which condoned “sexual assault and a sense of male entitlement, at best. And they are an actual instance of assault, at worst.”

In the instances mentioned, the writer said the camera traveled into the student section and landed on two students who were “clearly not a couple.”

In the first instance the guy “pleaded his case for a kiss on the big screen while the female adamantly shook her head no. So what does this guy do? He grabs her head and shoves his tongue down her throat, the crowd cheers.”

In the second instance, the female said no and the writer saw “no less than six sets of hands from the seats around her shove her unwilling face into his, crowd cheers.”

Now, I still I believe kiss cams are a fun in-game tradition at the core. It’s cute seeing a couple get caught on camera and showing their love for each other as the crowd cheers.

That being said, the situation at the Dome hits on a topic on the minds of many college students and parents of college students: sexual assault on college campuses.

On our campus alone, there have been several cases of sexual assault reported in the past year. This week, the school is shooting its own bystander involvement video to educate the student population to step in during these situations. Sexual assault on college campuses is a problem.

With this in mind, it is time for all colleges to look into how they handle kiss cams at sporting events. Some common practices implemented by camera operators and technical directors are to hold the camera on people unwilling to kiss and returning to them several times if they say no.

Those practices are not okay.

Situations like the ones at the Dome can easily be eliminated if workers are told not to hold shots of fans who do not want to kiss. The crowd gets rowdier the longer the camera stays on those fans. If the camera turns, the worst that happens is a few fans boo and the game goes on.

So, college and universities? Add strict guidelines for camera operators and technical directors working at your sporting events. Reprimand workers who do not oblige these changes. Fire them, if need be. Remove fans from events who exhibit such behavior as the students from Syracuse’s game against Wake Forest.

But keep your kiss cams.