Earlier this week, we reported about how T-shirts featuring a buffalo mounting a ram and the slogan"Ram This" were confiscated at Saturday's CU-CSU Rocky Mountain Showdown
. We've now heard from the facility's general manager, and he admits that the shirt seizures were against stadium policy and never should have happened.
"Ram This" shirts were being peddled for $15 a pop in the Boulder shopping district known as the Hill throughout the week before the game, with hundreds of students picking one up -- including my twin daughters, who are freshmen at CU. But when students wearing the garments tried to enter the stadium on Showdown day, security personnel informed them that they wouldn't be allowed entry unless they surrendered the T-shirts.
One of my daughters complied, but the other couldn't, since she'd purchased an oversized version she was wearing 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 more heads would be turned if she wore no pants, then kept walking in the hope that she wouldn't be stopped amid the tumult -- and she wasn't.
What's the Sports Authority Field policy when it comes to shirts? "Part of our standard fan code of conduct is that we don't allow any material that's profane or offensive in nature," says stadium general manager Andy Gorchov. "Obviously, everybody's got a different opinion as to what constitutes profane or offensive material. So what we try to do is not use our own opinion, but use as a guide whether something would be acceptable on network TV or around children."
By that standard, would the "Ram This" shirts be considered verboten? After all, there were plenty of other questionable shirts that made it into the stadium, including this one, which earned a few seconds of TV time:
My daughters also saw several individuals wearing shirts that stated "I'd rather have" above two choices: "A CU Diploma" and "AIDS." A box beside "AIDS" was checked.
For Gorchov, the shirt with the profanity is an easy call: It would be deemed unacceptable. But the same goes for the "Ram This" design, because it features "a depiction of two mascots in a sexual act." As for the AIDS shirt, "it's tough to say," he allows. "But we try to make it a family friendly environment, and if it was something that was upsetting fans with children around that person, we would certainly ask that the fan turn it inside out or cover it with an outer jacket."
Gorchov stresses that this same approach should have been used at stadium entrances, too.
"Our staff has been told they're not to confiscate any shirts whatsoever," he says. "Asking somebody to leave the building is an absolute last resort. First, we'll ask if they will turn the shirt inside out, so it's not visible, or cover it with a jacket. That's the ideal solution. The only time it's taken further is if the fan is refusing the request or becomes abusive to the staff. But an ejection from the stadium is the last resort."
Not on Saturday, it wasn't. The daughter who surrendered her shirt says the confiscation was systematic, with long delays caused thanks to dozens upon dozens of CU students being refused admittance unless they stripped off their shirt. In the case of my daughter, she turned hers inside-out and put another T-shirt over it, but stadium personnel still refused to let her in. When she finally acquiesced, she was directed to toss her shirt into a full-size recycling bin that was full to the top with "Ram This" shirts.
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This was a mistake, Gorchov says: "I don't know if maybe there was some confusion on the part of the staff that asked that. But we've clarified with the staff that they're to ask people to cover up the shirt with a jacket or turn it inside out, but not to actually confiscate the shirts. That shouldn't have happened."
This admission doesn't exactly satisfy my daughter, who says, "I want my $15 back, and an apology to my face."
She shouldn't hold her breath on either count -- but at next year's game, she'll know the rules, even if the people who work at the stadium don't.
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