‘Homophobic Gimmick’? NBA Team Bans KissCam

Kyle Weidie of the WASHINGTON CITY PAPER reports today that the NBA’s Washington Wizards discontinued a “homophobic gimmick” last January.

Weidie noted, “just before a game against the Denver Nuggets, the Wizards stopped running the Kiss-Cam Ambush gimmick.”

What happened? Team spokesman Brian Sereno indicates that the practice was halted due to a complaint—though he won’t say exactly who didn’t think it was that funny. By email, owner Ted Leonsis declines comment.

Brent Minor, a spokesman for TeamDC, a gay and lesbian sports-advocacy organization, to Weidie about the ban:

“It does raise the larger question of if somebody was actually gay; there is sensitivity to that. So I think it was probably the best course of action.”

But while the focus of Weidie’s piece is mostly about the homophobic implications of the in-game video feature, he also reported:

But the change may not have been about being respectful of the people in the audience at all: In a subsequent conversation, Sereno says concern for visiting players’ feelings was a factor.

In 2009 the WNBA Washington Mystics, who share an owner and building with the Wizards, also banned the Kiss-Cam.

Following that decision, WASHINGTON POST columnist Mike Wise wrote:

“We wouldn’t broadcast on our Jumbotron about abortion issues because of the religious and political conflicts it would cause,” said Lindsey Harding, the team’s point guard. “It’s a similar, sensitive subject. We don’t want to put anything out there to turn down certain fans.”

But doesn’t the KissCam question distill where we really are? A rite of spring in the NBA — where couples of mixed creeds, ethnicities and ages are suckered by peer pressure into puckering — is somehow taboo in the WNBA.

On the Jumbotron at Wizards games, couples on their first date sometimes balk at kissing, which generates laughter. Other times couples are ready for the lens — passionate kissing and theatrical groping, which usually brings the building to a crescendo of hilarity.

Funny, huh, not one same-sex couple has ever been shown on that screen.

So why did the Mystics ban the Kiss-Cam?  Sheila Johnson, the Mystics’ managing partner: Read more…