Why the Caps don’t have a Kiss Cam

February 14, 2013

I wrote a story that ran in Style on Thursday about Kiss Cams. Valentine’s Day, and all. Just following orders.

Judging by the comments, people loved it.

“An unforgivable invasion of privacy by a media which has lost all sense of embarrassment in invading the lives of the citizenry!” one person wrote.

“Did this guy actually get paid for this piece of trash? Not even fit for bottom of bird cage!” someone else wrote.

“How inept does Obama have to be to cover him instead of non stories like this?” a third person asked.

Feels great to be loved. Anyhow, I thought my sports audience — at least, those members of it who don’t loathe me — might be interested in the thoughts of Caps Director of Game Entertainment Michael Wurman, who explained to me why the hockey team no longer uses a Kiss Cam. Now, Wurman wasn’t trying to criticize anyone else’s use of the device, and he wasn’t pledging never again to use the smoochy standby at Caps games. But when he arrived in the fall of 2009, he wanted to go in a different direction.

“I just felt that we wanted to move on, come up with some different ways to engage people and challenge ourselves,” he told me. “Dance Cam, Smile Cam, Kiss Cam, Dance for Your Dinner [Cam] — put any phrase in front of the word ‘Cam,’ and most teams have done it. And I felt ultimately we should move past this, because we just want to be a little different. I look at our games as a big cultural event, almost — everyone comes in red, we have fans who people know by one-word names, and just felt like that’s part of the hockey atmosphere. Where does somebody kissing someone else fit into that? It just didn’t seem to fit.”

Maryland added Kiss Cam features to football and basketball games this year because of a full-time sponsor for the segment, Elephant Auto Insurance. The Wizards do it about every other game, thanks to a sponsorship deal with the D.C. Lottery. Sponsors like the segment because fans can’t look away, so they’re staring at the logo for 75 seconds. But Wurman said no fans have complained about the lack of a Kiss Cam at Caps games.

“We wanted our experience to be a little bit different,” he said. “I felt there were interesting ways to engage people other than just sticking a camera on them and saying, ‘You’re the show now, do something funny.’ I just felt, what does somebody kissing have to do with hockey?….The ultimate thing is, are people still having a lot of fun at the games? And I still think they are.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg | February 14, 2013