Sports Law Blog
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Saturday, January 15, 2011
You Can't Sit There! UVA's Ticket and Seating Policy for Men's Basketball Games Called into Question
Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports has a great piece on a UNC hoops fan who bought a $100, 2nd row seat at a UNC-UVA game played in Charlottesville VA, but because he was wearing a Carolina blue coat and because the section was primarily intended for UVA fans and athletic staff, he was told he could not sit in the seat he purchased.
He was escorted out of the section -- which I imagine could have been embarrassing -- and dispatched to a different and not as good seat, where his school's colors were apparently less offensive.
Should he have been forced to change seats merely because he was supporting the opposing team? Even as a UVA alumn, I say no.
Here's an excerpt from Eisenberg's story:
To read the rest, click here.
To expand my comments, while colleges clearly have "some" authority to regulate the conduct of fans and what's known as fans' "cheering speech" (i.e., how fans cheer, either for or against a team/player - a topic which Howard has written about), their use of that authority has to be carefully drafted. For instance, if fans excessively and loudly spew out profanities at games, and there are kids around, their First Amendment rights may be trumped by various concerns, including those based on security. Plus, those fans would likely have violated the terms of their ticket admission by being so disruptive.
But merely wearing the opposing team's colors? Come on. Hard to see how that can be regulated without providing notice to ticket buyers in advance.
It's disappointing that a school founded by Thomas Jefferson, of all people, would take this approach.