The CU Buffs' 28-14 victory over the CSU Rams during Saturday's Rocky Mountain Showdown didn't feature the kind of bad fan behavior (including a 1999 riot) that's marred past contests. But did stadium staffers go too far trying to prevent trouble by confiscating T-shirts featuring the slogan "Ram This" and an illustration of a buffalo mounting a ram?
Consider the tale told by two CU freshmen -- my twin daughters. During the week prior to the game, they visited the Hill, the Boulder shopping district that's a magnet for students, and everywhere they turned, they saw vendors peddling "Ram This" shirts. So they each purchased two and wore them to the game.
When trying to enter the stadium, though, security personnel informed them that they wouldn't be allowed to attend unless they surrendered the T-shirts. One of my daughters complied, even though it meant throwing away an item that had just cost her $15 -- a significant sum for a starving student -- and borrowed another shirt from a friend.
But her sister had purchased an oversized shirt and was wearing it as a dress. So she borrowed another shirt, pulled it over the offending slogan, and tried unsuccessfully to roll up the longer garment to prevent it from showing. However, a staffer noticed and told her to get rid of the shirt anyhow. She refused, saying she'd presumably cause a bigger stir by wearing no pants, and kept walking in the hope that she wouldn't be stopped amid the rush of people flooding into the stadium -- and she wasn't.
Inside, the pair saw plenty of shirts they regarded as more offensive than those they'd worn, including this one (featuring the phrase "Fuck CSU") that got a brief moment of national-TV time:
Equally questionable to my daughters, particularly given their rooting interest, was a shirt they saw on several CSU fans. They say it featured the phrase "I'd rather have" and then two choices: "A CU diploma" and "AIDS." According to them, the "AIDS" box was checked.
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Were students given any warning that attire like the "Ram This" shirts would result in a refusal to admit them to the stadium? According to CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard (who's both a longtime friend and godfather to one of my daughters), the university sent out a general e-mail in advance of the Showdown encouraging students planning on going to exhibit good sportsmanship, and to avoid the sort of taunting of CSU boosters that might cause altercations. But he doesn't recall anything in the note specific to T-shirts or other apparel, and neither does he have knowledge of a university directive to the folks at the newly renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High to make attendees with potentially inflammatory shirts -- even ones sans profanities -- either ditch them or go home.
Does that mean stadium supervisors made the decision? And if so, where was the line drawn? An interview request on this topic has been left with Vice President of Stadium Operations Mac Freeman. If and when he or another Sports Authority Field spokesperson responds, we'll update this post.
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