Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh has a formal policy when it comes to signs and banners at events: Provided they’re in good taste and made of right material, they’ll be permitted inside the arena.
What Josh Kuchinka and two friends walked through the doors for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, they unknowingly tested the limits and spirit of that policy: The “good taste test” wasn’t for a sign, but for the jerseys they wore to the game:
That’s Kuchinka in the “CROSBY SUCKS” No. 87 Philadelphia Flyers jersey. Sean Reader fashions the “MALKIN BLOWS” No. 71 jersey, while Connor McGonigle is sporting the “NEAL SWALLOWS” No. 18 sweater.
According to Kuchinka, when they walked through the arena doors, a security guard asked where they were sitting. Before they made it up the escalator, they already had swarms of Penguins and Flyers fans snapping photos of their three-person sweater billboard.
Then four arena security guards approached them and said, according to Kuchinka: "Either you take them off or wear them inside out or you’re being tossed out of here. This isn’t Philly. We don’t allow those things.”
The trio turned them inside out, and went to their seats, with a security guard nearby, seemingly waiting for them to put the sweaters back on. "Some security guards laughed and apologized for us not being able to wear them,” said Kuchinka, “cause we had a lot of people who wanted to take photos with us.”
The first security was right: It isn’t Philly. The three fans wore these jerseys twice to Flyers/Penguins games at Wells Fargo Center and never had an issue. Nor does Kuchinka have a problem when he wears a “DEVILS SUCK” jersey to games in Newark.
So in Pittsburgh, they were on their best behavior. “They also said the first vulgar words out of our mouths and we were out of there,” he said. “We even told them we would cooperate with them. We were there to support the Flyers and have a good time.”
(The Flyers won both games from the Penguins in their home-and-home over the weekend.)
I found their story to be an interesting one because, frankly, it’s the first time I’ve heard about a Jersey Foul getting censored at a game. And I’ve seen variations of these jerseys at Devils games, Caps games, Rangers games and Flyers games.
There are obviously going to be those that dismiss these jerseys immediately because they of their crude mockery, achieving that delicate balancing act of misogyny and homophobia. The point is, had they walking into Consol and said the same things they wore on their backs during the game, they’re not getting ejected. They’re joining the cacophony of others saying worse.
I don’t know: I’m a freedom of speech guy. I’m an anti-censorship guy. I’m also someone born and raised in the nosebleeds, so my tolerance for this type of language is probably higher than others. Do I get the censorship here? Sure. Do I think it’s completely selective, but in targeting Flyers fans and targeting something written rather than said? Sure.
Would you have a problem seeing these guys roaming the concourse, or did Consol security strike a blow for good taste?