Will the Skycam Ever be Used Again?

A cable for Fox Sports’ skycam snapped and injured 10 fans at Charlotte Motor Speedway during NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. Will networks such as Fox and ESPN continue to use this camera?
(Photo Credit: J. Glover)

Fox Sports has some work to do.

A cable snapped on Fox’s CAMCAT, which damaged cars and injured 10 people during NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. Fox Sports apologized several times during the remainder of the race. Fox also said an internal investigation would be held to determine the cause.

Fortunately, none of the injuries were serious. Once again, Fox was full of remorse, and said it was “relieved and thankful” that the injuries were not more severe. According to USA Today, Fox has not found anything at this time. However, USA Today reported that Fox said the cord passed inspection last June.

The CAMCAT is Fox’s version of the Skycam. Although this is a rare occurrence, maybe stations should look into improving this “Skycam” equipment. After all, it does have a history.

The first stoppage occurred with NBC in 2007. In the fourth quarter of the Seattle Seahawks vs. New Orleans Saints on October 14, their Skycam dropped to the field for a closer look. The problem was it was not supposed to that, and caught everyone off guard. NBC later revealed the cause to be human error. NBC said, “It was a controlled descent due to human error on the part of the operator.”

The previous incident occurred with ESPN. During the 2011 Insight Bowl between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Oklahoma Sooners, a cable broke on ESPN’s Skycam and the camera crashed onto the field. It barely missed Hawkeyes wide receiver Marvin McNutt. Luckily, no injuries.

It cannot be denied that the Skycam has revolutionized sport telecasts. The camera puts you right in the action. It also provides key camera angles for replay officials during football games. Without Skycam, it would be very difficult to determine whether or not the player broke the line of scrimmage or the goal line. Another neat feature is when the camera races past the fans. For example, ESPN’s College Gameday Coverage. However, is it worth having the perfect angle if the fans’ safety is put in jeopardy?

Maybe now is the time explore alternatives. What about drone journalism? If this concept catches on, then should channels fly around little HD cameras. The drones could hover above the players and bring the angles of the Skycam. Plus, there would not be any cables to worry about. Or should they work on improving the structure and setup of the Skycam? Either way, something must be done before someone does get seriously hurt.

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