It took a dedicated fan and media attention but the New York Mets have finally been shamed into canceling an offensive practice: Showing two men (players from the opposing team in the Mets' case) on the kiss cam as a way to get the crowd to laugh at the men.
Mets fan Etan Bednarsh has been campaigning against this practice all season, even posting a detail examination on Storify: "Throughout the 2015 baseball season, the Mets have been putting opposing players in the kiss cam as a 'joke.' They have ignored calls from press and on Twitter to stop. It's time to end this sophomoric 'wouldn't it be hilarious if two male athletes kissed?" gag once and for all."
Bednarsh contacted Outsports late Wednesday and he was in the process of writing an account for us on the practice, when the Mets suddenly announced they had stopped. This happened as Bednarsh was about to go on a video broadcast on the Huffington Post. The team then issued this statement:
We have, on occasion, included players from opposing teams in our popular in-game Kiss Cam feature. While intended to be lighthearted, we unintentionally offended some. We apologize for doing so and no longer will include players in the feature. Our organization is wholly supportive of fostering an inclusive and respectful environment at games.
"I think they changed their mind when Huff Post Live contacted them," Bednarsh, 32 and straight, told Outsports. "I don't think they ever meant to be malicious, but I wish they would have dealt with once media, other fans, and myself started contacting them about it on Twitter. Frankly, it's a shame it had to get to this point."
Great job by Bednarsh, though it's a shame it took a large media outlet like Huffington Post to make the team see how offensive this practice was. It's something that has been going on at sports venues for years but the idea of showing two men as a "joke" is fast fading. The Los Angeles Dodgers made news of a positive type when they showed a male couple kissing and the crowd cheered.
What is annoying is that Bednarsh has been hammering the team all season about this, even retweeting posts by other writers. Here was his first tweet back in April:
.@Mets Putting two men together on the kiss cam isn't a punch line. I want to keep coming to games. Please stop doing this.— Etan Bednarsh (@EBednarsh) April 15, 2015
Bednarsh is a diehard Mets fan, something rare in recent years. "In high school, I cut school to go to opening day. In 2006, I went to 30 games. I've been to about 15 games this year," he told Outsports. It looks like his support will be rewarded by a playoff appearance this year (assuming writing this doesn't jinx them).
Let's not applaud the Mets here. They waited way too long and the fact that it took a media inquiry to change their minds instead of common decency is a poor reflection on whoever made the decision to treat two men kissing as a joke. The credit here goes to Bednarsh for getting pro sports team to stop doing something that was outdated and offensive.
To show you how well Bednarsh documented his efforts, I made a screen cap of his Storify post. Click here to read it in its original type size.