Low-flying spider cam takes down sports player

Avid sports fans will be familiar with footage from a Spidercam, which sweeps low over the athletes to provide a more dramatic view.

The footage may initially look like it’s coming from a drone, but Spidercams are actually suspended from a network of cables placed directly above the playing field, and use motorized winches to move around.

The technology has been in use for decades in various forms, and most of the time it captures the action without incident.

But earlier this week Fox Sports’ Spidercam – dubbed the ‘Flying Fox’ – hit the headlines after it crashed into South African cricketer Anrich Nortje, knocking him to death in the process.

The incident took place on December 26 during a match between South Africa and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Several other cameras around the ground captured the moment when the low-flying Spidercam slammed into Nortje. Fortunately, the 29-year-old athlete was not seriously injured.

Who said cricket is not a contact sport?

The South African player Anrich Nortje was hit by the aerial camera #BoxingDayTest

Meanwhile, Warner’s century & Australia are just 2 wickets down & 2 runs short of SA’s first innings total (Warner on 115 & Smith on 39) pic.twitter.com/ZafPYIJPue

— The Sage (@SarkySage) 27 December 2022

Asked later if he could have sustained a serious injury, Nortje said: “Definitely.”

In comments reported by The Age, the cricketer described what happened: “I saw cables and then I moved my head and then I saw the camera and I was a bit late. It went pretty quickly. I didn’t know what really hit me, to be honest.”

Nortje said that the camera “just tapped on the shoulder and the elbow. The elbow is a little sore, but otherwise it seems to be OK. I’ll just monitor it [and] see how it goes [the] doctor.”

Commenting specifically on the Spidercam, Nortje added: “The one thing we’ve talked about in the past is how low it is, and it probably shouldn’t be … unless for interviews or something. I don’t think it should travel at head height.”

A Cricket Australia spokesperson described the incident as “human error” and said the Spidercam would be used but with “additional measures”. Fox Sports has yet to comment.

In other bizarre incidents involving a similar type of camera, the equipment once fell onto a football pitch, narrowly missing one of the players, while a football goalkeeper once managed to hit the camera not once, but twice in just 20 seconds. And if you think drone cameras can do a better job, think again.

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