Instead of the “Kiss Cam”, how about helping people learn about football?

I shared my thoughts the other day on why it’s time to retire the Kiss Cam, an outdated and inappropriate game day video board presentation.

Teams are always looking for time fillers, so what could you do instead? Here’s an idea.

What if you showed some videos that (humourously) attempted to explain the game?

You need to welcome people who’ve never seen Canadian football before, or who are casual fans that don’t appreciate the nuances of the game. Let’s help them out!
Frankly I’ve been to almost every Argos home game in the past 22 years and there are still a lot of things I don’t understand.
Let’s help me out too!

How about showing some fun vignettes that explain …



  • The basic idea. We’re going that way, they’re going this way, we’re trying to stop them, we get 3 chances to go 10 yards…
  • Why are they called “downs”?

  • What “offside” is
  • What “illegal procedure” is. Is that different than “offside?” Show me what it looks like.
  • How come some players are “ineligible receivers”?

  • Why are there so many referees on the field? What do they all do?

  • The people holding up the sticks at the side of the field. What are they doing? Who are they? What attracted them to this unusual job?

  • What is a “rouge”? Why is it called that?
  • Safeties. Why are they called “safeties”? Why is it a good idea?

  • What is the deal with “onside kicks”? They hardly ever work. Why is that?

  • Sometimes the ref says there’s been an illegal formation. What’s that all about?

  • Tiger-Cats is redundant, isn’t it? Why does our big rival have such a stupid name?

  • Explain pass interference. (OK this is a huge can of worms.)

  • Why do we have slightly different rules than the NFL?

  • The Obscure CFL Rule of the Week: Did you know that Article 7 of the rule book, “Ball Fumbled Out Of Goal Area” says that a team can actually decline a score? Has that ever happened?

  • Teach me some of the referee hand signals. What’s going on here? Are they doing the YMCA or does this mean something? (Note, these are all actual signals from the CFL rule book.)
    CFL referee hand signals
  • Stump The Experts: A kicked ball strikes an official on the head and then clanks into the upright. Is it a dead ball? Stay tuned for the answer!

  • Here’s the thing. Sophisticated fans know all this stuff and will roll their eyes. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, there aren’t enough sophisticated fans to fill the stadium. We need people who are unfamiliar with football to come, and enjoy, and learn, and become rabid fans. Let’s help them out.

    I bet you could make this fun and engaging and it would be something people would enjoy.

    Unlike the Kiss Cam.

    Time to retire the “Kiss Cam”

    Speaking of football game day traditions – retiring the Kiss Cam is long overdue.
    If you haven’t seen it – this is a stunt found during timeouts at lots of sporting events where the cameras pan the crowd, looking for couples, finding a man and a woman and encouraging them to kiss, all up on the Jumbotron for everyone to see and cheer.

    It’s awkward enough assuming that camera operators have some magic ability to spot people in the crowd who might be a couple.
    We don’t know anything about their situation.
    We, the people, demand that they kiss!
    Kiss for us! Now!

    But …

    Maybe they’re coworkers, maybe they’re neighbours, maybe they’re brother and sister – maybe they’re strangers. Or maybe they really are a couple and they’re having a bad day, or are embarrassed, or who just don’t want to be on the screen doing something intimate.

    Why are we putting randomly selected people on the screen and pressuring them to do something pretty personal like this?
    You can see the reluctance a lot of the time.

    As if that’s not bad enough, it used to be that after four or five rounds of finding couples to kiss, the cameras would then finish off by cutting to two players on the opposing team.
    Ha ha!, the theory apparently went, isn’t that hilarious, the idea that two men would kiss!

    Well, no, it’s not. Come on.

    At least they don’t usually end with that shot of two players any more, but it is still cringe-inducing watching the cameras pan the stands, always on the lookout for a man and a woman sitting together because a) obviously they must be romantically involved if they’re sitting beside each other, and b) a man and a woman is apparently the only “safe” combination to select.

    It’s time to retire this gimmick – it was never funny in the first place and now it’s just awkward and becoming offensive, especially in light of the great work teams are doing with projects like “You Can Play” that encourage everyone of all types to take part in sports.

    Lose the Kiss Cam. Please.

    On football crowd noise

    “People with a real love for the symphony, when other people react and clap after a first movement, they should be saying “Wonderful – there are new people in the audience tonight!”

    — Former Toronto Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Oundjian, asked in The Whole Note about audience members clapping between movements of a piece, something long thought by sophisticated concertgoers to be a major etiquette violation.

    Yesterday I was at the Argos game at BMO Field, a thrilling 24-23 victory over the BC Lions, and the outcome was in doubt until the final second. It was the largest crowd in a while – 18,000 people and the fans were loud, and engaged, and everybody had a great time.

    And, unfortunately, the TV cameras were pointed at the east stands. At the moment, the team doesn’t sell seats in the upper deck, so it looked terrible –

    BMO Field east stands

    The crowd on the west side, where I sat, was much better. Not full, but a big improvement.

    This is the west side’s reaction after the go-ahead touchdown. Isn’t this fun?

    And it was great to see lots of new fans at the game! I hope they come back. It seems like it’s easy to get people to come to one argos game, but harder to get them to come to two.
    An exciting victory on a beautiful day with a loud crowd should definitely help.

    Here’s the thing though.
    The tradition in football is that the home crowd should be quiet when our team has the ball – so that they can hear signals from the quarterback and execute plays to perfection.
    (Make all the noise you want after the ball is snapped but be quiet while they’re getting ready.)

    Conversely, you should be loud, stomp your feet, and scream when the visiting team has the ball.
    Try to throw them off.
    Sometimes it works, sometimes the crowd is so loud that the other team will line up in an illegal formation, or make a false start – and they’ll get an “illegal procedure” penalty.

    (sidebar: here’s the difference between ‘offside’ (on the defense) and ‘illegal procedure’ (on the offense).)

    I have to admit, I never really understood this shushing business.
    Your natural reaction – as in most other team sports – is to cheer madly on offense to help your team score.
    And, aren’t they professional athletes?
    Aren’t you getting paid?
    What’s the problem with a little noise?
    What is this, Golf? You can only perform in silence?

    Well, whatever.
    That’s the tradition.
    They need to hear the signals.
    Quiet on offense, loud on defense.
    The players want it that way.

    What bugs me more, though, is when fans criticize other fans for making noise on offense.
    Yesterday there were some “Let’s Go Argos!” cheers and foot stomping when the Argos had the ball.
    I saw a few tweets from fans complaining about this.
    You’re not supposed to do that, then!
    The nerve, that people would cheer at the wrong time!

    But …
    We should be happy about that.
    It shows that there are new fans at the game.
    We want that!
    We need them!
    We want them to return!

    Peter Oundjian has the right attitude.
    “Inappropriate” crowd reactions really just mean you have new people at the event, and you should celebrate that and welcome them if you want your event to survive and thrive in the modern era.

    It’s the same at football.
    Let people cheer “wrong”.
    Let’s hope they had fun, and will come back, and will figure out our traditions and become as suave and sophisticated as the rest of us.

    Basic Questions for Ontario Politicians

    We have a provincial election coming up in Ontario and I am worried that some politicians do not know enough basic facts about Ontario.

    If you want to be part of the government, I think you should know some Basic Information about Ontario.
    Accordingly, I hope any politician I meet can answer some of these basic questions about Ontario. (I’ve printed out this map and have it ready by the door in case anybody comes by.)

    1. Please indicate our current location on the map below.
    2. What city is marked by the red dot?
    3. What’s the blue island?
    4. Identify Ontario’s largest provincial park, shown in green here.
    5. Approximately where is North Bay?
    6. Explain the difference between a University and a Community College.
    7. Who is the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario?
    8. Who is the premier of our neighbour to the west, Manitoba?
    9. Which of the three flags below is the flag of Ontario? What are the other two?
    10. If you were driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls, what cities would you pass through or by?
    11. What is the Chi-Cheemaun?

      For bonus points, recite any verse of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, or “Ontari-ari-ari-o”.



    Ernest Cosmos Quigley

    Bruce Arthur’s great Toronto Star article on Steve Nash’s induction in the Basketball Hall of Fame got me digging around to see how many other Canadians are in there. Nash joins fellow Canadian members Dr. James Naismith, Pete Newell, Bobby Houbregs, and the pride of Newcastle, New Brunswick, Ernest Cosmos Quigley.

    You don’t know Basketball Hall of Fame member Ernest Cosmos Quigley of Newcastle, New Brunswick? Once upon a time he was “the most famous man in the field of sports.”

    Quigley was born in New Brunswick in 1880, played (for James Naismith) and later became AD at Kansas, umpired six World Series, officiated three Rose Bowls – one of the all time great officials. Enshrined in the Basketball Hall in 1961.

    Here’s a great story about legendary tri-sport official Ernest Cosmos Quigley, born in New Brunswick but who moved to Kansas at an early age. I admit I’d never heard of the guy before digging around today.

    To the sportswriters of today – when you mention Steve Nash and Canadians in the Basketball Hall of Fame, why not throw in a quick mention of Ernest Cosmos Quigley.


    Using your Mac as a HomeKit Camera

    Want to try using your Mac as a HomeKit camera? Got access to Apple’s developer tools?

    1. Go to Apple’s developer tools download site and download “Additional Tools for Xcode”

    2. In the resulting disk image there’s a Hardware folder. Launch the HomeKit Accessory Simulator app. Maybe drag it to your Applications folder, add it to your dock, set it to open at login, etc.

    3. Lower left corner of HomeKit Accessory Simulator, click “+” and then “New IP Camera”
      New IP Camera menu item

    4. In the “Configure your new IP Camera” section, fill in a name, manufacturer and model. Make up something interesting. Click “Finish”.

    5. Scroll down in bottom half of window, click “Start”. Camera image should appear.

    You now have a HomeKit Camera running. See that “Setup code” at the top of the window? To add it on your iPhone…

    1. Launch Home app

    2. Touch “+” button

    3. Touch “Add Accessory”.

    4. Point camera at the Setup Code in HomeKit Accessory Simulator on your Mac.

    5. It’ll say it’s an uncertified accessory. Click “Add anyway.”

    Tada, a HomeKit camera.

    Hayman’s Laws of Air Travel

    Hayman’s First Law of Air Travel
    All problems in air travel stem from information being communicated poorly.

    Hayman’s Second Law of Air Travel
    For all combinations of airlines X and Y, there will be somebody who says “Why would you ever fly with X? They’re the worst. I only fly with Y.”

    Hayman’s Third Law of Air Travel Which is Actually More of a Guideline, Really
    If you don’t miss at least one flight a year, you’re getting to the airport too early.

    Hayman’s Fourth Law of Air Travel
    When you’re travelling solo, you zoom through the airport like a pro.
    When you’re travelling with your family, you somehow forget how things work, drop stuff, get in the wrong line, and make rookie mistakes.

    Hayman’s Fifth Law of Air Travel

    Get to the airport at least 45 minutes earlier than you normally would if you’re flying an airline you don’t usually fly, since you won’t be able to zip through all your usual shortcuts.

    Also why are you flying on THAT airline?

    Email from famous people

    You might be wondering, “Why did you, Steve, send Jeff Bezos some jumper cables for his birthday in 2001?”

    Amazon has a wish-list feature where you can list things you wanted other people to buy for you. And in 2001, Jeff Bezos had one, with jumper cables on it.

    I figured, hey, I like Amazon, I’ll send the guy – who was not at the time the world’s richest man – some jumper cables, with a nice note saying “Happy Birthday, and I hope you never need these.”

    (Meanwhile I created my own amazon wish list with some fancy stuff on it – I forget what exactly, some binoculars or something – because hey, you never know.)

    And I actually got a gracious thank-you note from Jeff Bezos, thanking me for the jumper cables and agreeing that he too hoped he’d never need them.
    (He did not wind up buying me anything off of my own wish list, however.)

    But somewhere in my email, I have a thank-you note from Jeff Bezos, which I will cherish forever, assuming I can ever find it

    I have another email saying “Great idea – thanks.”

    From Steve Jobs.

    I really should find THAT one and frame it.

    Top 10 Argonotes at Skydome Memories

    This is an experiment to see if I can convert this Storify article to a blog post.

    Originally posted 2 years ago.

    Top 10 Argonotes at Skydome Memories

    Tonight’s the last ever Argos game at Skydome. The band’s been there for 21 years. I’m feeling just a little nostalgic.