Getting Dumped after the Kiss Cam: What I Learned about Being Part of Sports’ Briefest Love Story

Megan McLachlan
4 min readJul 19, 2021
Photo by Lindsey Turner

When I was in middle school, I opted out of a game of Spin The Bottle at a friend’s birthday party because I didn’t want my kissing skills (or lack thereof) to be on display for all the world to see. Even though it was a room of maybe eight or nine peers, the voyeurism and judgment felt a little like auditioning for American Idol (before I even knew what that was), and I was definitely more of a William Hung than a Kelly Clarkson.

With my middle school days long behind me, I eventually became more comfortable with the idea of public displays of affection, even at sporting events with the Kiss Cam. During the 2013 Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Finals, I, a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, sat next to a cute Boston Bruins fan and actually wanted to kiss a stranger in front of thousands of people, let alone 10. I hoped that the Kiss Cam would pan to us and two rivals could bridge the gap by sharing a smooch. The camera didn’t, of course, but it would have been a great story, which is what sports’ biggest social game is all about: tales of love. One fleeting peck on the jumbotron makes everyone assume it’s happily ever after.

It’s cynical of me, but I often wonder what the over-under is with couples who get on the Kiss Cam and whether they stay together. There has to be some sort of criteria, the fact that the couple looks happy together (when the camera chooses the two invested in their phones, that’s not just for a laugh, but to serve as a warning to pay attention to your partner). I’ve naively assumed that most of these couples were in it for keeps, the camerapeople little cherubs who pranced around the stadium using a magic wand to select true love. It’s a nice thought, especially since you never see the on-screen strangers again and don’t see the drunken fights in the parking lot on the way home.

One night at PNC Park, my boyfriend and I watched the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Cincinnati Reds with a group of other couples, all of us lined up in a row. A cameraman approached us, “Would you like to be on the Kiss Cam?”

Whoah. We had been chosen!

I fixed my baseball cap, asked if I looked OK. Even though I had missed out on Spin the Bottle nearly two decades prior…

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Megan McLachlan

Writer, Editor, Lightweight. After two drinks, I start licking faces.