Jumbotron Do's and Don'ts
In the era before stadiums and arenas (big or small) became multimedia entertainment complexes, fans watched the game in relative anonymity. Unless ESPN or television network cameras were on hand—and you gave the producer a good reason to train those cameras on you—the possibility of finding yourself on display and on the spot to do something clever was almost nil.
Today, however, the Jumbotron isn't only a ubiquitous feature at sports venues; the technology can effortlessly display your mug in high definition. And because of this, Jumbotron shenanigans like the dreaded "Kiss Cam" are standard fare for sporting events.
As if it isn't tough enough not to look like an idiot when you're singled out in front of a few friends or coworkers, the pressure to play it cool is enormous when you find yourself emblazoned on a 50x28 screen in front of 12,000 gawking spectators.
Fortunately, YouTube offers countless examples of what to do and what not to do if the situation arises. These are Jumbotron do's and dont's.
Do: Remember to Smile
We’re living in the era of the 24-hour news cycle and, as a society, have unfortunately embraced the inaccurate idea that there are two sides to every story.
Which means these days we have a difficult time agreeing on what the meaning of is is, yet there is at least one thing that remains a universally accepted norm. When someone points a camera at your face, you smile. It’s as simple as that!
If you find yourself on the Jumbotron at some point, completely at a loss for what to do next, just smile! As long as you don’t fall down in the process, a friendly smile will allow you to escape with dignity intact.
Don't: Be a Weirdo
We just covered smiling, which alone is good enough in a Jumbotron pinch. But if mustering even a halfhearted smile is somehow outside the scope of your normal human behavior, then just try not to be a total weirdo.
If you’re not sure what, exactly that entails, take a look at the video above and make note of the mustachioed man’s intense, unbreakable dead-eyed stare. Watch it a few times so you really get its full impact. And then never repeat it.
Do: Think Outside the Box
Jumbotrons are actually pretty bossy for a piece of electronic equipment that doesn’t even belong to you. Even though we fans fork over our hard-earned money to go to the game, the Jumbotron spends the entire time telling us what to do.
Stand up! Sit down! Let’s make some noise! Shhhhhhhh! Dance! Kiss that dude next to you! Go to Taco Bell tomorrow! Check your seat number! It’s like, hey Jumbotron—you’re not my dad! Or maybe it is my dad, since I, like most people, have been blindly following its orders for decades now.
That’s why in September 2014, it became a national story when one crazy couple dared to defy our TV overlord. Caught on the kiss cam at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, the so-called "Dodgers-Giants Couple" dared to be different, opting instead to mutually pour beer over each other’s head instead of delivering a peer-pressured smooch.
It was great. They are great.
Don't: Be Aggressively Shy
People go to sporting events to watch the game, generally speaking, not on the off chance they’ll end up on the Jumbotron and be given the opportunity to make a spectacle of themselves. If that happens, well great! Total bonus!
For regular people, being on the Jumbotron is an entertaining momentary brush with fame—even just within the confines of the stadium or arena. For socially awkward drama queens, however, it can be an entirely different experience.
Obviously there’s nothing wrong with being shy, but making a big awkward production about it is probably the least effective way to convince the camera operator to move on. Instead, just give a quick half-smile and an awkward wave. Boom! You're done.
Do: Have Fun with It
Should you ever find yourself on the Jumbotron, the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone else in attendance whose collective gaze is fixated on you is to have fun with the moment.
What exactly constitutes having fun can vary wildly from person to person, so just go with what feels natural. For some people it can mean dancing—moving and grooving to whatever weirdo soundtrack fills the many lulls throughout the game. But dancing isn’t for everyone!
Other ways to have fun with it include but are not limited to: yelling like a crazy person, taking items of clothing off, lifting up one’s shirt and smacking one’s belly, making funny faces, and/or pointing at the team’s logo on something or someone and giving a thumbs up.
Don't: Try Too Hard
There are few things more pathetic than those guys (sometimes girls but usually guys) who spend the entire game desperately trying to get on the Jumbotron with limited results. It doesn’t matter how sad they look to the outside world because these people truly have no shame.
That’s not to say there’s no shame to be had here—there’s plenty of it. Unfortunately, the shame of the shameless tends to bounce off the shameless and stick to the rest of us. That frees the shameless up completely to enjoy the game while everyone around them spends the entire game feeling embarrassed for them and posting mocking videos of them on social media.
Take the guy in the video for instance, who is the unwitting star of some stranger’s YouTube videos. Yep, there’s more than one.
Do: Keep It PG—PG-13 Max
Like it or not, these days most sporting events are a family affair. And, like it or not, when there are lots of children (or even any children) present, adults have a certain responsibility to keep things civilized.
Not having kids of your own is unfortunately not an acceptable excuse for getting drunk, throwing up and/or starting a fight in the stands. Or starting a fight outside the bathroom. Or inside the bathroom for that matter. Or in the parking lot.
Seriously though, that stuff should be obvious and second nature to most people. Children shouldn’t be the only thing preventing that kind of bad behavior after a certain age. Basic human decency should be enough to safeguard.
Kiss cam couple behavior, on the other hand, is something that could and should be impacted by the presence of children. It’s called the kiss cam, not the public hump and grope cam. A good rule of thumb is not to do anything you wouldn’t be (marginally) comfortable seeing your parents do.
Don't: Overstay Your Welcome
Most camera operators at sporting events do a relatively good job of keeping things moving. Sometimes they’ll get stalled on a pretty blonde girl or a group of pretty blonde girls, but the vast majority of them develop a rhythm over the years.
There is, however, the occasional lazy one who tends to linger way too long. When the operator lingers too long on a specific woman, it can go from comical to creepy in an instant—often she’ll become visibly uncomfortable. When the operator lingers too long on a man, the result is generally something like this video.
At first the Flyers fan is loving life, pulling out all his dance moves before whipping off his Santa hat and gyrating “seductively.” Then it just gets repetitive. After 30 seconds, it’s like he can’t even believe he’s still on the Jumbotron and is completely out of material.
The camera guy definitely overstayed his welcome, which isn’t entirely the Flyers fan’s fault—although he certainly didn’t help matters either. So if you ever find yourself dancing on the Jumbotron for so long that you start to think, “Maybe I’ve been doing this too long,” just have a seat.
Listen, if you’re going to be a weirdo, be the biggest weirdo you can be. Although, generally speaking, you’re probably better off going with something a little more organic, the only way to pull off crazy is by completely committing.
The kid in this video is a natural at crazy—and it’s awesome. If he had ignored his instincts and quit before the bare-bellied thrusting, regret would’ve haunted him for the rest of the days. But he left everything out there in the bleachers that day, which is all you can ask.
Overcommitting in this specific instance means orchestrating an elaborate marriage proposal, which culminates in you asking your significant other to make a lifelong commitment to you in front of tens of thousands of strangers.
Marriage is supposedly a special thing and supposedly not something to be entered into lightly. The proposal should be thoughtful, memorable and, above all, private. At least semiprivate—including some close family or friends is fine. Including Bruins Nation is not.
The Jumbotron is for dancing, drinking and PDA—a marriage proposal just doesn’t fit the tone. Plus, there’s always the chance of getting shot down. That kind of rejection will metaphorically disembowel you—is that something you’re comfortable living on YouTube until the end of days?
Don't: Act Suspicious
During Ohio State’s playoff game against Alabama in January 2015, one unsuspecting Buckeyes fan acted in a seemingly suspicious way when she caught a glimpse of herself on the Jumbotron.
The woman was rubbing the neck of a man sitting beside her and abruptly stopped when the cameras found her. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she was also broadcast on ESPN, leading the entire Internet to publicly speculate that she had just been busted cheating on her boyfriend with a “sidepiece.”
It didn’t take long for her to find out that she, a human being innocently attending a college football game with her boyfriend, had gone viral. And yes, that was her boyfriend. If only she had just continued going about the business of neck-rubbing, a national disaster could have been averted.
Do: Come Prepared
Getting caught on the kiss cam with someone who, for various reasons, you do not feel comfortable kissing is an unfortunate reality for...like 90 percent of people who get caught by the kiss cam. Maybe it’s your first date with someone you really like and you were hoping for a first kiss that didn’t happen at gunpoint—which is exactly what that cam feels like sometimes.
Maybe you’re there with a good friend, who you wouldn’t normally mind playing along and planting one on, but he or she has a very questionable looking red mark above the lip. Maybe you have moral or religious objections to kissing in public. Or maybe you just have a natural aversion to authority and refuse to bend to the man’s demands.
Although, the most likely scenario is you’re there with a family member and...ew. In March 2014, a University of Minnesota alum knew that attending a hockey game on Valentine’s Day with a pretty blonde girl would make him a potential target—even if the pretty blonde girl was his sister. That’s why he came prepared with a helpful sign to get him off the hook and get him a laugh in the process.
Do: Be a Hero
Sometimes in the heat of the moment, it may seem like the only thing that matters in the world is getting your grubby little mitts on an awesome souvenir like a foul ball. Like it’s the only thing that has mattered before, matters at this moment and will ever matter from now until eternity.
That’s why it’s important to keep in mind things are not always as they seem. YouTube is positively brimming with videos of terrible adults doing terrible things, usually for nothing more than the outside chance of going home with a ball.
Parents will drop their kids! Men have been known to run down not just women, but children too! You don’t ever want to be that guy. And you really don’t want to be that guy if someone recognizes you and publishes all your information online.
Instead of being that guy, how about being the hero? Comfort the crying child. Chastise the offending jagweed without starting a fight. Or, should you find yourself in possession of a game ball, consider giving it to someone smaller than you. Everyone will love you, and who knows? You might end up with something even better.
Don't: Forget Your Manners
This one isn’t as lame as it sounds, mostly because there’s a completely different set of acceptable behavior standards at sporting events than there are at work or even at home. At a game you are free to get drunk, eat garbage all day, scream and yell and just generally be loud and unpleasant—within reason.
That being said, there are still some lines that we should try never to cross, especially in public. We’re talking about engaging in the type of bad behavior that separates us from the animals. Stuff like picking your nose—bonus demerits for eating its contents or wiping it on someone rather than something.
Or how about wearing most of your meal on your clothes or face? Disrobing is something else you definitely want to avoid. There is some gray area for shirts but no wiggle room in the pants department. This kind of stuff is questionable in the privacy of your own home. That means it’s completely unfit for a massive audience.
Don't: Take It Too Seriously
Nothing that happens on a Jumbotron should be taken too seriously. We’ve already covered many of the reasons why everything associated with Jumbotrons and being featured on Jumbotrons is inherently ridiculous.
That’s exactly why participation in these antics should always be considered completely voluntary. The camera operator isn’t allowed to physically cajole people into participating, so neither should the companions of unwilling participants.
If the guy you’re at the game with wants to participate in the kiss cam nonsense, fine. If he wants to talk on the phone instead, that’s fine too—just make the most of your moment, and kiss a stranger or something.
You’ll certainly come off looking a lot better if you do that than if you get angry and dump your drink on him.
Do: Become a Legend
At a Boston Celtics game in 2009, an American treasure by the name of Jeremy Fry lip-synched his way into history. Inspired by the Bon Jovi classic, “Livin’ on a Prayer,” he stood up and gave (what looked to be) the impromptu performance of a lifetime.
Unassuming to an impressive degree, Fry certainly doesn’t look like the type of guy who has that sort of performance in him. But clearly he does, as it’s hard to imagine even Bon Jovi himself could’ve glided up and down the stairs working the crowd any better.
These days anyone can go viral, and Fry is no exception—he was a pretty big deal for 15 minutes or so back in 2009. The difference is that Fry went viral again four years later for the same performance! That pretty much never happens.
Fry’s video blew up again in 2013, when millions saw it for the first time, and millions more enjoyed reliving it with them. In fact, it was such a massive hit that it actually led to a brief chart revival for “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Legendary status achieved!