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Professional sports and scantily-clad women go hand-in-hand, or so it might seem if you've ever seen a beer commerical or a pro cheerleader. Apparently, when it comes to pro sports fans, however, teams prefer their women in not-so-provocative attire. Case in point: Sondra Fortunato and the New York Giants.
In Week 15 of NFL play, Sondra, the chesty self-proclaimed Miss Football, was ejected from the Giant's loss to Dallas at the Meadowlands. Ms. Football was wearing a skimpy Santa outfit and carrying a bag containing two fan sings that read "Go Giants" and "Have a No Guns Christmas".
According to a New York post columnist, Fortunato was lectured by Giant's officials, who stated that she was ejected for violating the stadium's rules prohibiting signs and baggage. They had no comment about Sondra's getup.
Which brings us to the moral of this story: Fans do not enjoy unbridled First Amendment rights of free speech in professional sporting events. Basically, any kind of expression, whether it's a sign or an article of clothing, can be reasonably regulated.
Why? A couple of reasons:
1) Pro sporting arenas are not "public forums" that are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Citizens enjoy the freedom to say just about anything in a true public forum, like a city street. However, in a sports stadium, where people have to pay $50 to get in, you have a greatly diminished right to freely express yourself.
2) Teams and their officials are not "state actors" that are obligated to protect your constitutional rights. Private entities, like professional sports teams, can make their own rules, as long as those rules serve some reasonable goal, like safety. So, a rule prohibiting signs because they may contain profanity which could be inadvertently televised or viewed by minors, are legitimate restrictions on your First Amendment rights.
Does all this lawyerspeak mean you can't wear that revealing ensemble to the next football game? It depends.
Although the Meadowlands has no formal policy prohibiting skimpy clothing, the inference that Sondra's attire contributed to her removal from the stadium is logical. Let's face facts: provocative clothing often attracts negative attention. Just ask the woman who was thrown off an airplane because her clothes were too sexy to fly. Or the student who was put in detention for wearing a t-shirt with an anti-gay slogan.
FindLaw doesn't have a simple answer for the skimpy clothing question, but the following insight may provide some guidance: sporting events are usually filled with children and rowdy, intoxicated men. Dress accordingly.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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