Top 10 Weird Jumbotron Moments

What is a Jumbotron? Well, it’s as key an ingredient to the stadium experience, just as much as a bag of peanuts and a flask to wash it all down away from prying eyes of security.

The Jumbotron is the live instant replay those drifting in an out of consciousness in a reclining chair take for granted at home and these giant monitors are even more important at concerts, as from some vantage points heavy squinting and cocoa leaves are required to stay alert during a tambourine solo.

At baseball games for instance, during breaks in the action (enough time to do one of your more complicated offshore tax returns) and at other major sporting events Jumbotrons perform a key function: getting attractive couples to kiss.

With WI-Fi offered at some stadiums, it could be that the Jumbotron will soon become a historical artifact, like bat days back back when these would be used to clobber opposing fans. We hope not, as public humiliation (and we’re generalizing here), enlivens 100% of sporting events so here’s to more Weird Jumbotron Moments in the future.

10. Reds-faced (BBC May, 2003)
Fugitives from justice should keep a low profile. Your more successful fugitives get personal mail delivery, move into a rural communities and become known as “the quiet guy, kept to himself mostly” before some yokel gets cable, and phones in a cash reward tip leading to the arrest of the Mansfield Maniac.

Sometimes, a felon’s profile is more conspicuous than playing mouth catch with California rolls. Such was the case of a Cincinnati man who faced nearly 20 years in prison for failing to show up at a trafficking/possession hearing who decided along with his girlfriend, to take in a Reds game instead. When the stadium’s “Kiss-Cam” honed in on the pair, he obliged by giving her a big wet one right on the lips for all to see, including the man’s parole officer and a cop in attendance who arrested him.

9. Blowing Kisses and your Cover (Daily Mail 2010)
A New York murder suspect was caught at a Charlotte Bobcats game, behind a couple caught on kiss-cam. Let’s just say that attending a game featuring possibly the worst franchise in the NBA – ranked 25th in league attendance out of 30 teams -  does not help when it comes to keeping a low profile as anyone would stand out against a row after row of empty blue seats. Also drawing attention: a “telltale diamond-encrusted moneybag pendant hanging from a gold chain”, which tipped off a witness, who failed to get caught up in the lip-smacking moment enough not to scan the rest of the visual field.

8. Ay Carumba! (ESPN October, 2005)
The company that produces images and content for the Jumbotron at North Carolina State University home games had to apologize for an image that appeared onscreen during a game and reprimanded employees after several Latino fans were featured on the video screen, along with the caption “Mexi-Cam”. The vice president of business operations apologized, saying “it was in extremely poor taste.”

7. Modest Proposal (Numerous sources)
There are certain questions to which you only want a “yes” in response like “these oysters are fresh, right?” But perhaps no question is as dependent on a positive response for one’s own sanity than “Will you marry me?” Before popping this question it is wise to take a long look at your likely betrothed and ask yourself, not whether you’ll be compatible in 20 years— heck, statistically most marriages are headed for the tar pit— but rather if you’ll make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse.

Relationship experts are nearly unanimous on the subject, but unless you are completely certain that the answer will be yes (unwanted pregnancies are a can’t-miss in this regard), it is better to pop the question in private rather than be publicly browbeaten in front of 20,000 spectators and millions watching at home. The most high-profile of these public proposals was at a UCLA game – the rejection denouement clearly faked – but picked up on by respectable news outlets all over.

6. Peachy (Chicago Tribune January, 1997)
While 11 O’clock newscasts offer highlight reels of people killed since 6 who didn’t fit between sports and weather, late night talk shows that air after them seek to corner the demographic not burdened by a 9 to 5 jobs (afternoon soaps do as well, but it’s a lot easier to stay awake mid afternoon).

It’s undoubtedly difficult to come up with funny material day after day and David Letterman is no exception (he’s actually proof). The fissure-tooth comic was on the receiving end of a New York City woman’s lawsuit after she was caught eating a peach at the US Open Tennis Tournament and her image re-broadcasted with marginal conviviality on the Times Square Jumbotron.  The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

5. Memphis Belle (Fox Memphis December 2007)
Like winning a fistfight in flip flops, preventing random acts of stupid behavior is difficult. A woman dancing on the Jumbotron gave Memphis Grizzlies fans, unaccustomed to cheering during home games (at least past the player introductions), something to stand up and applaud when she danced topless in front of 10,000 fans (further indication, in case the earlier joke fell on deaf ears, that the Grizzlies aren’t a very good team). The woman was promptly arrested by police to “deter others interested in public exposure.”

4. Rave Reviews (Boston Herald May, 2000)
A Boston rock station came under more fire than those who landed at Juno Beach, when “wild women” (source material quotes, or as we like to refer to them, “beneficiaries of our largesse in a bar”) were doffing their tops at the behest of the Jumbotron caption writer.

As source newspapers pointed out, guaranteeing express home delivery of our tickets for their next event: “An integral part of the rock ‘n’ roll show experience for a number of concertgoers nowadays seems to include a melee, some indecent exposure and a trip to the local emergency room”.

3. Not Lovin’ It! (The PETA Files, May 2009)
We’re all for cheap publicity stunts. In fact, to promote a book we partook in a Guinness chugging contest—for the uninitiated, this is only slightly easier than guzzling a jar of blueberry jam.

During a Blackhawks / Red Wings tilt, PETA activists, you know, the folks who make you think twice about ordering veal (first thought: “I’d really like to order the veal”. Second thought: “Yeah, that’d be delicious. Wonder what PETA would think of this?”) arranged a publicity stunt based from a marriage proposal (second only to the morbidly obese dancing like they’ve been hit with one of those circus cannon balls when it comes to catching the attention of whoever puts stuff up on the Jumbotron). As the camera panned over to them, the male half of the duo snuck out a large sign that read “McDonald’s Breaks Birds’ Wings and Legs.” We should hope so, how else would you be able to carry your order home in the little box? Please see our list of Suggested Peta Campaigns.

2. We’ve had our Phil. (D-Listed / People Magazine June 2008)
If we’d done write-ups on all the celebrities and politicians who’ve been booed when their faces appeared on a Jumbotron, it would make War and Peace look like a grocery flyer, still, the improbable pairing of George Michael and Dr. Phil, make this particular instance stand out.

At an LA concert, Michaels noted the presence of the hectoring TV shrink in the crowd, saying that he looked “miserable” (at this point we remind readers that it was a George Michael concert) and the crowd, unimpressed with the doctor both before and after it was announced that he looked miserable, booed twice. Michael quipped to much applause: “You should see someone about that!” and proceeded to perform for 140 minutes (anyone who stayed for the entire duration, should take him up on his admonition)

1. “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a giant television plummeting to the ground” (Philadelphia Inquirer 1997)
In 1996, the Buffalo HSBC arena’s first Jumbotron, an eight-sided Sony scoreboard not built to withstand being dropped from several hundred feet, crashed to the iceminutes after hockey practice before a Sabres / Bruins battle. Nobody was injured, the game was postponed and the offending scoreboard removed.