Officials ban vulgar T-shirts
By JASON McFARLEY
The word "suck" kept John Furka and Brian Kahn shirtless in the rain Saturday during the Notre Dame-West Virgina football game.
Notre Dame Stadium ushers wouldn't allow the University sophomores into the facility Saturday afternoon before they turned inside out or removed T-shirts with language deemed inappropriate by security officials.
"I was a little annoyed about the situation, but we ended up just taking them off," Kahn said of the "Notre Dame football sucks" shirts.
The navy blue shirts featured gold writing on both sides. The front read "ND tailgating '01." On back was "Drinking because we suck."
They were among about 30 shirts Kahn's cousin printed last month.
Officials considered "suck'" a vulgar term, according to Cappy Gagnon, coordinator of Stadium personnel.
"We have a policy that we don't allow vulgar material into the Stadium," Gagnon said. "Even without the policy, we wouldn't do it anyway."
The University adopted the policy more than five years ago, when students printed and wore to the Stadium "F Michigan" T-shirts, Gagnon said. In the past, officials also barred a "Kans-Ass" shirt.
"We've had one or two people say it was a First Amendment issue," Gagnon said of past incidents of students wearing possibly insulting clothing. "We say it's a Stadium decorum issue. We try to create a family environment."
The shirts didn't threaten that family-oriented environment, the students said.
"I don't think ["suck" is] a bad word," Furka said. "It's not the best word, but there's words that we could've put on there that would have been a lot worse."
Ushers asked the men Saturday to remove the shirts twice, once during half-time and again during the fourth quarter, according to Kahn. Both times the men were in the student section of the stands.
Following the usher's second request, the men left the shirts off for the rest of the game, he said.
Stadium workers did not confront Kahn when he wore the shirt to the Oct. 6 Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game, he said.
Furka said Saturday was the first time he wore the shirt to the Stadium.
Ushers typically ask fans before they are seated to remove or turn inside out shirts deemed unfit, Gagnon said. If visitors inside the venue don't follow the instruction, ushers usually repeat the request.
"We give people plenty of warnings," Gagnon said. "If people refused, they'd be removed from the Stadium, but that's not something we've had to do with a student."
He noted that he received from Stadium crew few reports this weekend about students wearing inappropriate shirts. No students complained to him about shirt-banning incidents this weekend, he said.
Saturday's incident wouldn't deter Furka and Kahn from sporting the shirts at future home games, the men said.
"I just think it's a funny shirt. I think it's good for a laugh," Furka said.
All News Stories for Monday, October 15, 2001