Sideline Television Cameras Banned: NBA Decides To Do Away With Midcourt Recording Devices To Protect Players And Referees

Sideline television cameras have been banned by the National Basketball Association (NBA). The cameras posed a safety risk to players and referees.

Cameras placed along the sidelines of the basketball court have always been a hazard for players and referees. Hence, effective immediately, cameras placed midcourt to record the action will be removed permanently. The ban on midcourt sideline television cameras is effective immediately, confirmed ESPN.

The placement of multiple cameras and cameramen on the baseline and the sidelines of an NBA basketball court has been a topic of player safety for quite some time. There are multiple incidents involving players or referees and recording equipment. While the cameramen are interested in capturing the action as closely as possible, the players and referees are completely engrossed within the game. This has resulted in many minor accidents.


Players have regularly crashed into cameras on the baseline. There has been an intense debate about moving the cameras and cameramen away from the baseline and pushing them farther into the spectator area for the safety of the players. According to CBS Sports, there has been a marked increase in incidents involving camera people on the sideline in front of announcers’ tables or scorers’ tables.

In fact, during the hotly contested game between the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 21, NBA official Scott Wall tripped over a cameraman and rolled his ankle. The minor but painful injury forced the official to walk away from the game, reported Screen Grabber.

Incidentally, the nail-biting game was won by Memphis Grizzlies with a 102-101 score last week, but Scott Wall wasn’t able to referee it. The report noted that referees had gone down because of cameras along the sidelines, but there has never been a serious injury that warranted leaving a game midway. Such incidents, unfortunately, are quite common in NBA. Professional basketball is a closely-followed game and is televised to thousands of fans. NBA star player LeBron James, too, was a victim of the cameras, which are played dangerously close to the court. During Game 1 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the towering James tripped over a cameraman.

The ban has come into immediate effect and is valid for all nationally televised games, which deployed cameramen on both sides of midcourt, reported Awful Announcing. Incidentally, it is the referees who insisted upon more safety for them as well as the players, noted Brian Windhorst.

“The National Basketball Referees Association had requested a change recently, sources said. As teams increase the number of 3-pointers and the depth of them, referees have been moving farther and farther out to create angles to officiate. This left them more susceptible to the cameramen near midcourt.”

Besides moving the cameras and cameramen on the baseline to create more room for officials and players, the NBA has made a few other changes for their safety. Basket standards were also moved back to allow more space under the rim. It seems apparent that NBA doesn’t want anyone hurt in the name of entertainment. While a few spectators watching the game on television might be a little upset, a majority won’t mind missing out on an extra low-angle shot of a bench or play, reported MSN. There are numerous other angles and shots to substitute the moment. However, some will still grumble that no camera angle matches to the one offered by one placed at midcourt, which is inches away from the players. Undoubtedly, sideline cameras were able to get high-quality, low-angle shots of both the floor and the benches, but they are risking players and referees.

Has the NBA made a right decision to reduce the clutter on the sidelines by asking the cameras be moved further into the spectator area?

[Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images]