Bleats

Athletes Just Want To Run And Not Worry About Crotch Cam Zooming In On Their Bits

Too close for comfort.

Have you ever watched a running race and thought, “gee whiz, watching this from a distance is ok, but I’d love to get a close up shot of what’s happening between the athletes’ legs?” If the answer is no, that’s because you’re both a regular person and not involved in broadcasting the Athletics World Championships currently happening in Doha, Qatar.

The championships are happening through until this Sunday, and are full of some pretty amazing athletes doing pretty amazing things. The people running the competition wanted to come up with some new and innovative camera angles in order to *sports announcer voice* get you closer to the action, and so the Block Cam was born. The Block Cam is a camera mounted in the starting blocks for the sprint events, and points upwards so that we can see the faces of the athletes before they take off running. 

It would be a great plan if their faces were the only thing we saw, but the fact that the Block Cam has been universally nicknamed the Crotch Cam tells you exactly how well that worked out.

While American sprinter Justin Gatlin joked about making sure he had his lucky underwear on, the situation wasn’t quite as funny for a lot of others. South African sprinter Akani Simbine, who finished forth in the 100m final, said:

“I’m not too keen about it because it’s kind of invading my private space in a sense. Being in the blocks is one of the athlete’s sacred spaces and that’s the point where you just want to be alone and be free.”

Apparently the Crotch Cams make a whirring sound too, according to British sprinter Zharnel Hughes:

“Sometimes you hear camera inside the blocks. You know it’s there because when you are set on your blocks you hear it.”

The cameras were only brought in a week ago, and are already being restricted due to complaints. German sprinters Gina Lückenkemper and Tatjana Pinto called the cameras “very questionable” and pointed out that they hadn’t been asked if they were ok with close up images shot between their legs being broadcast. The answer, shockingly, is that they weren’t ok with it. The IAAF, who run the World Championships, had to agree that they’d only show shots of the athletes’ faces from the cameras and nothing more.

One of the most common things we hear from athletes across all sports is about how they need to focus, focus, focus. In races where milliseconds can matter, you don’t need a camera buzzing away while you know that it’s broadcasting an incredibly unflattering angle of your face, or worse. For a lot of the competitors, training for events like this is their full-time job. The stadiums may be an incredibly different sort of workspace than you or I are used to, but they should be treated as a work place none the less.

Somehow, I don’t get the feeling that these Crotch Cams will be the next big thing in the sports world. Iconic moments like watching Cathy Freeman win the 400m at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, or watching Usain Bolt break his own world record in the 100m sprint were not less exciting because we could only see the sides of their heads. Races at the World Championship level are exciting because we’re watching the best of the best compete, not because we’re watching them through an “innovative” camera angle that makes everybody uncomfortable.

Guys, The Footy Grand Final Is Not Some Excuse For You To Attack Women

The spotlight should be on the spike of domestic violence cases.

This week is Christmas for footy fans. The Western Sydney Giants were well and truly flattened by the Richmond Tigers during the AFL Grand Final on Saturday, and we get to do it all again this coming Saturday when the Canberra Raiders and the Sydney Roosters play the NRL Grand Final.

There are a lot of good things about football. Unfortunately, as with most good things in life, some people have to take it too far and be jerks about it. There are more incidents than I can count of fans screaming racist slurs at players, there’s the photo of Tayla Harris that brought out every cretin on the internet, and the entire saga of Israel Folau hating gay people.

Another thing that comes with footy matches is a massive spike in domestic violence cases. On average, police respond to a domestic violence case every two minutes in Australia, adding up to about 5000 cases every week. Major football matches increase these numbers significantly, with the AFL grand final leading to 20% more call outs every year, and a big NRL match like the grand final or State of Origin causing a spike of up to 40% in some places.

Overall, grand final weekends cause the second highest spikes in domestic violence on the calendar. The only event worse is New Years Eve, where rates increase about 50%.

The theory is that the grand final is a time where people drink a lot more than they otherwise would, gamble on the outcome of the game, and watch the match with emotions running high. Sadly, it’s a scenario that plays out the same way overseas as it does here in Australia.

The World Cup is a massive deal in the soccer world, and it only comes around every four years. France were the ultimate winners in 2018, but England made it all the way to the semi finals. If you had any doubt about how emotionally invested fans were while watching the games, check out some of the footage of English fans celebrating in the streets when they scored a goal.

Which brings us to this. You might remember this ad put out by the NHS in the middle of all the world cup hype:

Same awful statistics, same awful reason, other side of the world.

Back home, Australia has already seen 53 women and 17 kids killed so far this year. The most recent was Helena Broadbent, who was taken to hospital in Victoria after falling out of a moving car. She died a few hours later. Helena was five months pregnant, and her baby (who was delivered via c-section) is still in hospital. A 35-year-old man has been charged.

There isn’t much left for me to say about the horrors of our national domestic violence death toll that hasn’t already been said a thousand times, but I’ll try. Every single one of those 53 women was a person with their own complex lives. They had hopes, interests, friends, and they deserved to be here.

As we lead up to the NRL grand final this weekend, think about the people who won’t make it through without violence in some form. Women’s lives matter, and women’s safety is a damn lot more important than the outcome of a football game.

We’ve Made Kids Feel So Bad About Themselves That There's A Weight Loss App For 8-Year-Olds Now

And it comes with goals like 'make parents happy'.

When Weight Watchers rebranded as WW last year, they announced that they were shifting the company’s focus from weight to “overall health and wellbeing”. The rebrand was a well received move that was immediately backed up by releasing an app to help kids lose weight, which was a terribly received move. 

The app, called Kurbo by WW, and is aimed at kids aged between eight and 17, and works by tracking everything you eat. Foods are categorised as red for things like fast food and lollies, yellow for food like dairy and grains, or green for food like fruit and veg, with the ultimate goal being to eat as many of the green category foods as you can.

Criticism of Kurbo have come in fast, and include some pretty scary warnings. Some experts are actually worried about the app having the complete opposite of its intended affect, and causing some really serious damage. The system of ranking food by colour and tracking everything you eat isn’t calorie counting, but it’s very close to it, and it’s very easy to see how kids could be learning to obsessively count calories later in life. In a worst case scenario, experts are worried the app could lead to a relationship with food that is so unhealthy, a person could wind up with disordered eating.

For all the criticisms that have come flying at WW, the app has been designed with the best intentions. For now the app is only available in America, a country which notoriously struggles with obesity levels in people of all ages. Unfortunately, releasing an app like this is like slapping a band-aid on a broken leg, because no amount of colour coding food is going to touch some of the systematic factors at play. The link between poverty and obesity has been well documented, and the rise in food deserts where fresh food is difficult to access adds a whole new set of challenges to eating well.

When you download the app, it initially asks you to select some goals you want to work towards. These include options like ‘eat healthier’, ‘boost my confidence’, and even an option labelled ‘make parents happy’. That a kid as young as eight can have their confidence so tied up in their body image is a pretty confronting thought. Think for a second about just how little an eight year old is. What were you doing at that age? Every photo of me taken when I was eight includes my Tamagotchi hanging around my neck on a Bratz lanyard, and my pride and joy was the town I had built under my bed for my Littlest Pet Shop toys. It’s an incredibly formative age.

We’re living in a time where the body positivity movement is gaining a lot of traction, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve managed to get rid of the attitudes that made the body positivity movement necessary in the first place. Kurbo has brought out a lot of anger from many parts of the community, and rightfully so. But maybe when primary school-aged kids are feeling so bad about their bodies that a company can market a weight loss app to them, it might not be the company we should be mad at.

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