Jumbotron Love: Tacky or Thrilling?

Mary-Stella Mangina, Sports Editor

With Valentine’s Day coming up, long-term romantic couples all over the United States are feeling heightened levels of infatuation with each other. Their spiking romanticism leads many of them to contemplate marriage. According to financial technology data operator and blogger G. Dautovic, close to six million couples in North America get engaged on Valentine’s Day.

As a general statement, no two people share the same sentiments about asking somebody for their hand in marriage. Some have detailed deliberations with their sweethearts beforehand, ensuring they have decided on the viability of their potential marriage before making any big moves. People who discuss proposals with their romantic companions far in advance are wont to touch base on possible sources of financial contention, like the pros and cons of opening a shared bank account or when and how to go about buying a home.

Others have less of a propensity for pre-meditation and more of a flair for the dramatic. These people prefer to propose spontaneously. Scheming soon-to-be spouses such as these may surprise their supposed soulmates with a surreptitious skywriter or a hidden engagement ring.

One of the most controversial marriage propositions lies in the approach delivered on a Jumbotron. It is a grand gesture typically seen at baseball games, perpetuated by enthusiastic patrons of the sport who aim to display brazenly their affections for and attachment to their sanguine suitors.

Proposals of this sort are a thing of dissensus. To those who do not regularly enjoy baseball, they might seem garish. In the same
degree, they could appear to someone who often feels shy as terrifying and to someone who keeps a low profile as tawdry. A poll conducted
on the University of North Alabama’s campus asked 30 residents of Olive Hall their thoughts on proposing via Jumbotron. Out of the students, 21 believed the motion to be tacky.

For better or for worse, fairy tale romances and all they entail do seem rather fictitious. The very idea of getting down on one knee in front of an entire stadium of onlookers seems as though it was pulled straight out of a saccharine romantic comedy. This assertion begs the question of whether or not something that is cheesy is automatically contrived. Public professions of love call for a level of vulnerability that most find unthinkable. The openness required to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve so conspicuously demands an almost debilitating degree of blind confidence. Knowing this, it is difficult to discount the value of doing so.

Jumbotron engagements are to many baseball lovers a way to connect with their romantic partners through a medium that interests them immensely. Some view the thrill of having their significant others declare their undying love for them on a huge television screen overlooking thousands of cheering baseball fans as fun.

Popularized by mass media and viral videos, Jumbotron proposals have been trending on and off for decades. What their success rate lacks they make up for with their unapologetically American spirit. As reported by Britni de la Cretaz for The New York Times, the famous Dodger Stadium, in Los Angeles, California, broadcasts engagements roughly twice a season. There, the going rate for onscreen romance sits at $5,000. At other stadiums, projected proposals are less costly. Boston, Massachusetts’s Fenway Park, for example, offers them for $350. Research presented by Bridal Guide magazine notes that it costs only $35 to publicly pop the question amid a Pittsburgh Pirates game in Pennsylvania.

On-camera ballgame betrothals were popularized by celebrities and prominent online presences. In 2013, influential rapper
and record producer Kanye West secured his girlfriend at the time, reality television star and fashion designer Kim Kardashian, by proposing to her at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, in California. YouTube channel The Sporting Maniac, which boasts 58.7 thousand subscribers, has a whole video on its page dedicated to espousals that occurred in the middle of Major League Baseball, or MLB games.

Because the stakes surrounding them are so high, publicized proposals are not usually regarded as viable. In reality, they are widely accessible. They are by no means limited to MLB stadiums; lesser-known sites have also been known to promote them. Indeed, in Birmingham, Alabama, Regions Field encourages its amorous occupants to express themselves on its big screens. Located in the city’s Southside area, the frequently-visited field serves as the home of the Birmingham Barons, who began operating out of it roughly thirty years ago.

Regions Field lets interested parties take a variety of approaches to their matrimonial movements, given they contact the location’s event manager prior to the start of the season during which they are to take place. Admittedly, its freedoms are slightly restricted by the coronavirus pandemic at the moment. For instance, the park presently blocks individuals from stepping foot on its grounds if its athletes are on the premises, for its executives wish to stifle the spread of COVID cases on its domain as much as they can. Their rule dictating who can and can not traverse its turf is one of several examples of the virus-oriented obstacles they face as managers of the lot. Yet notwithstanding the challenges they are handling, these office workers are now deliberating with potential proposers to devise their ideal scenarios.

A highly sought-after proposal they help coordinate is one that is somehow incorporated into a match’s ceremonial first pitch. Traditionally, the celebrated first pitch is thrown by a guest of honor. It quiets the crowd’s pregame bustling, and it signifies the start of the occasion at hand. In the past, at MLB games, the guests of honor have been U.S. presidents and important political figures. Today, at the Barons’s stadium, the first pitch is subject to be performed by a prospective proposer who, in lieu of an actual throw, might get down on one knee and produce an engagement ring to his or her fiancé-to-be.

Of course, another equally grandiose stadium proposal that is doable at Regions Field occurs on its ‘kiss cam’, the camera that scans its rows of seats for couples and prompts them to embrace, displaying their image on the Jumbotron.

It is up to future matrimonial matches to determine their autonomous views on the contested Jumbotron proposal. As a rule, so long as they are happy, they should feel free to be as flamboyant as they want in their affairs. To each their own, after all.