August 11th, 2014 by Leonard Klie

I am a huge Yankees fan, and have been since I was a little kid. And while I’m usually fully engrossed in the baseball season by now, this year I just haven’t been following the sport that much at all. With many long-time players and fan favorites fleeing pinstripes for higher salaries elsewhere, a lineup plagued with injuries, and a number of free-agent signings in the off-season, I hardly know any of the players on this year’s roster.

I think a big part of my baseball malaise this year also stems from what I perceive as a lack of marketing out of the Bronx. Instead, I see headlines that the team is banning celebrities from wearing opponents’ garb in the stadium.

Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton, who grew up a Yankees fan, was at the Stadium last week to watch boyfriend Justin Verlander‘s Detroit Tigers take on the Bombers. Upton showed up at the stadium in a Tigers hat to support Verlander, but the Yankees told her she couldn’t wear the cap while sitting in the “Legends” section.

Is this a sign of marketing gone too far? Perhaps, but not as far as the San Francisco Giants, which about a month ago started warning fans not to show up at AT&T Park wearing “culturally insensitive attire” that might offend some fans.

Does a sports team have the right to tell people what to wear to a game? With attendance on the decline at major sporting events, it might not be the best move.

Marketing experts blame lower attendance numbers on soaring ticket prices, among other things. To compensate, some teams are going to great lengths to make the fan experience more enjoyable. Then you have the San Francisco Giants and the Yankees telling me what I can and cannot wear to a game.

A highlight of the gameday experience for me is seeing the off-the-wall outfits worn by some fans. Any of them could potentially offend someone.
Foam cheeseheads worn by Green Bay Packer fans could offend vegans or those with lactose intolerances. The Eric the Red outfits worn by some fans at Minnesota football games could offend any number of groups conquered by the Vikings throughout history. Then there’s the Dawg Pound, a group of over-zealous fans in the bleachers behind one of the end zones in FirstEnergy Stadium, the home field of the Cleveland Browns. Not a spot for cat-lovers to hang out,I’d venture to guess. Even the Giants themselves run the risk of offending those of smaller stature. And that’s a name shared by teams in both MLB and the NFL.

Maybe teams should start reinvesting their marketing efforts a little more wisely. Let Kate wear her hat with a simple D on the front. I promise not to be offended.

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