Snapchat Spectacles nearly got me banned from Yankee Stadium

Snapchat and Instagram videos are being recorded everywhere, but you won’t find them at a Yankees game, at least not while security guards are looking.

I just moved from Los Angeles to New York City, mainly because New York has become the tech capital of the world. But not everyone here is enthused about emerging technology.

Little known fact: both Snapchat and Instagram video are officially banned by baseball stadiums across America, and so are Snapchat Spectacles and all 360 cameras, according to park officials.

I found out about these draconian rules the hard way when visiting Yankee Stadium for my first game as a New York resident. Major League Baseball isn't keeping up with the times like I had hoped.

Security: ‘They're banned. Also, just don’t get caught’

It's hard to believe given the fact that these short snippets of daily video are omnipresent among millennials – people, baseball needs to stay in business.

This is the point where Spectacles, Snapchat and Instagram are banned. I’m not even close to the actual game

The MLB, nevertheless, doesn't want to be part of anyone's "story" if it includes even a millisecond of video. Even video away from the field is banned, as I had done.

All of a sudden, if a friend says to you "video or it didn't happen," in their eyes, it'll remain categorized as "it didn't happen." Thanks, MLB.

My conversation just 20 seconds after I walked into Yankee Stadium:

Security [upon me entering]: "Sir, you can't record in here!"

Me: "What if I'm with the press?" [I legit was there for a sport tech demo]

Security: "Uhh–no! Nice try."

Me [later on, mid-game]: "Wait, just to get clarification: my Snapchat Spectacles are banned?"

Security: "Yes. They should have taken the Spectacles from you when you entered or not let you in." [Acting as if they wanted to kick me out then… don't worry, I was leaving early anyway.]

Me: "But I saw other people use Snapchat video on their phones during the game. And Instagram video. Are those banned too?!"

Security: "Yes! …Well, yes and no……. Basically, just don’t get caught."

Turns out, banning Snapchat and Instagram video is the official stance of all US baseball stadiums, according to Yankee Stadium security guards I talked to. 

So any device that takes video seems to be banned. But so are GoPro cameras, though they do take still photos, too. Okay, that makes absolutely no sense.

Contacting the MLB provided zero response in return. We continue to be in the dark and at the mercy of whether or not security guards want to look the other way.

MLB should take cues from concerts

Remember concerts about 15 years ago? When cell phones with cameras were banned – all those 1.3MP phone cameras were going to infringe on copyright protections, right?

Music promoters have realized that photos, videos and people checking into their venue with snippets of multimedia are actual free promotional tools.

No one is watching a 10-second video of The Chainsmokers concert on a friends Snapchat and thinking, "Well, I was going to go to that, but I've now had my fill." 

It's more like, "Oh, no, I didn't know my friends were going to that. I want to go next time." It's a promotional tool. A badly needed promotional tool for an aging sport, and baseball needs reminds me of those concerts policies from more than a decade ago.

College football has the right idea, too

Baseball is a great sport and known as "America's favorite pastime." But, sorry, the emphasis is on the "pastime" these days. It's lost favor with younger audiences.

American football is now more popular, but video games or watching TV [or Netflix, these days] are more popular than any one sport.

College football stadiums generally have this totally reasonable rule in place:

"Cameras, camcorders, cell phones, radios, and umbrellas are allowed as long as they do not compromise the view or experience of others."
-People in touch with reality in 2017

Remember, I was not even taking video of the baseball game. I was taking a short video of me entering Yankee Stadium.

Mixed answers: Can you take a camera into a stadium?

Internet forums highlight the biggest problem for baseball venues. There are thousands of confused camera enthusiasts who want to know if DSLR, point-and-shoot and other cameras are allowed.

Dude is taking video! Get him! He’s bothering EVERYONE right now, right?

"Can it include a lens?" asks one forum poster. The general response: "Kind of." 

"How big of a lens can I take in? What's the cut-off size?" are typical follow-ups.

Because no one really has answers, it ends up being tales of people saying what they were able to get away with in each stadium, and what got them ejected.

As with all camera policies in major venues, once you're on the ground, it's a confusing set of rules that are and aren't followed. The issue is that there are always vague rules on the website of these stadiums (simply because there are a lot of rules) and the MLB doesn't follow up with insightful examples.

Hypocrisy: MLB uses Snapchat to promote itself

What I found most ironic is that during my research for this column, I discovered that Major League Baseball loves to use Snapchat to promote itself.

“Except if you use Snapchat. Then please get out”

Its multi-year agreement with Snapchat has given way to an official "Snapchat Day" and the "SnapBat Selfie Stick" during Spring training last year.

This made for a fun little video series in order to give fans behind-the-scenes moments with top players and legendary stadiums. It promoted the experience.

The MLB should really democratize popular video apps app if, like college football says, it doesn't get in the way of others' enjoyment.

If someone is Periscoping video of the entire game, that's a problem (but really, who trades HD for blurry, washed-out live streaming video?). Police those people. Not me because I'm wearing sunglasses that takes 10-second first-person video.

Techs in the City is a column that follows around Matt Swider as he encounters New York City's love and hate of technology. What's it like having moved to Los Angeles to the Big Apple? Matt's out to find the interesting tech culture in NYC.

If you have a story, tip or just want to share something special, reach Matt via email at matt.swider@futurenet.com or on Twitter @mattswider. Or you can follow his clearly rebellious Instagram and Snapchat.

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