(USA TODAY) -- An openly gay Jacksonville Jaguars fan is the latest person to make a public objection to the "Kiss Cam" gimmick employed at many stadiums and arenas in the four major professional sports.
While the execution of the tactic may differ from venue to venue, the idea is basically universal. During a break in play, a camera operator gets puts an unsuspecting "couple" up on the scoreboard, with the implied pressure of an entire event full of people expecting them to kiss on the big screen.
The gag has become unfunny and grating when deployed with the best of intentions, but now Jaguars fan Dave Uible has sent a letter to team owner Shad Khan and cc'd various NFL executives, complaining that the way the segment operates at EverBank Field is also homophobic.
I'm not sure you are aware, but there is a video 'joke' called the Kiss Cam that plays at the games. Often, the bit goes like this: after showing several happy heterosexual couples kissing in the stands, the camera then pans to two opposing male players who are in close proximity and leaning toward each other -- insinuating that they may do the exact same (and ostensibly wrong) thing and kiss. Hilarious, right? No, and the message is clear. Jaguars are heterosexual and approved. The opponent is 'gay,' disapproved and the butt of a crude joke. Really, why is this even at an NFL game?
From what I understand, the NFL is now making strides to prevent bullying and homophobia. Mr. Khan, I'm sure you have felt your share of being an 'other' in this world and know how offensive it can be. We all go to the games simply to enjoy ourselves and root for our team. Obviously, it's disheartening to be reminded, by the NFL, that you really aren't quite as equal as the other season ticket holders. If this were a 'Muslim Cam' or a 'Black Cam', I'm sure the franchise would have gotten rid of it long ago. It's time for this not-too-subtle homophobic joke to go too.
Uible's complaint echoes one by Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy following a game against the Angels in Anaheim last April when two men were put on the "Kiss Cam" in an attempt to embarrass them. It's a gripe that a number of gay St. Louis Rams fans also had in 2010 when two men in Arizona Cardinals jersey were displayed on the big screen during the segment.
"If there are gay people who are coming to a game and seeing something like that, you can't assume they're comfortable with it," McCarthy told the San Francisco Chronicle last year. "If you're even making a small group of people ... feel like outcasts, then you're going against what makes your model successful."
With more requests from people like Uible, McCarthy's observation is certainly proving true.
Chris Strauss, USA TODAY Sports