When does fan fashion cross the line?   

Updated: July 23, 2008, 8:58 PM ET

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It's summer. It's hot. Scorching hot. You're sitting at the ballpark, soaking up the sun, sweating and spectating, a few degrees shy of spontaneous human broasting. You need relief. You know what to do. You reach down, pull off your shirt …

Er, not so fast.


After checking out all 10 fan pics, give us your verdict -- appropriate or inappropriate?

From chest-painters to tan-seekers to fat guys providing comic jiggles, shirtless sports fans are practically an American open-air stadium institution. In the nation's capital, however, they might be an endangered species: Last month, a male baseball fan complained to the Washington Post that ballpark employees at a Nationals Park game ordered him to put his shirt back on during a game, citing "indecent exposure." Pressed by Post reporter Dan Steinberg, a spokeswoman for the Nationals admitted that while the team's official guest code of conduct forbids "obscene or indecent" clothing, the definition of such is fluid, largely a matter of employee discretion. Which made Page 2 wonder: When is ballpark shirt-doffing appropriate? When is it inappropriate? And what do Nationals fans -- presumably the people the club's code of conduct is designed to protect -- think of bare chests and exposed belly buttons, sunburned shoulders and painted nipples?

Where should sports franchises draw the line? Does a line even need to be drawn?

Armed with 10 photos of sports fans in various states of undress, Page 2 surveyed 50 fans at a recent Nationals home game, asking them to vote "appropriate" or "inappropriate" for each picture. We also talked to Tuney Cole, a 44-year-old ballpark usher charged with enforcing the club's code of conduct. And now we're soliciting your opinion: Click through the photos below, read our Washington-based results and cast votes of your own. In a few days, Page 2 will compile the results, then draw up a list of stadium dos and don'ts for appropriate stadium attire.

Ready to begin? Click on …


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 64 percent
Inappropriate: 36 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"Doesn't bother me. I'll be watching the game either way."
-- Spencer Howard, 22, Lexington, Ky.
"That guy paid for a seat. He should be able to do what he wants."
-- Dave Nosse, 35, Washington

The Usher Says: No problem.

Page 2's Take: Um, do they even make cellulite cream for men?

Verdict: Appropriate, but borderline gross.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 74 percent
Inappropriate: 26 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"My rule is, unless it's the beach, have your clothes on."
-- Miriam (last name and age withheld), Alexandria, Va.
"It really depends if they're drunk or not. It's more their behavior than what they're wearing."
-- Bill (last name and age withheld), Washington

The Usher Says: Problem. But not because they're shirtless. "They've got their beers on the ledge, and they're leaning over, too. That's an issue."

Page 2's Take: The only thing lamer than sunglasses at night is a visor after dark. Since when did Fenway Park become a fraternity house basement?

Verdict: Appropriate, except for the visor.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 82 percent
Inappropriate: 18 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"I'm in college. It's going to take a whole more than that for me to say inappropriate."
-- Phillip Ledford, 21, Raleigh, N.C.
"You know what bugs me? That guy is showing off his underpants."
-- Laurent Levy, 46, Yardley, Pa.

The Usher Says: No problem. In fact, they should get better seats.

Page 2's Take: The day we frown on chest-painting is the day the terrorists win. And unlike older fans at Nationals Park, we're indifferent to saggy shorts.

Verdict: Totally appropriate. Unless you hate the Boston Red Sox.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 54 percent
Inappropriate: 46 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"Put a shirt back on!"
-- Charli McAndless (age withheld), Richmond, Va.
"I went to Duke. But that's too much for me. I don't want him sitting in front of me."
-- Ben Hendricks, 23, Washington
"If I'm seeing him on TV, I'm laughing. But if I'm behind him at a game, I'm not so sure."
-- Dave Mankin, 49, Lorton, Va.
"It looks cold. At least he has the warmth of his love for the Packers."
-- Angela Trumbaturi, 26, Baltimore

The Usher Says: No problem. "It's a football game."

Page 2's Take: Well, he is wearing pasties.

Verdict: Funny, appropriate and possibly the reason Brett Favre just can't stay away.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 90 percent
Inappropriate: 10 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"Is that sunburn or paint?"
-- Rachel Rubenstein, 25, Washington
"He's Alabama. That's inappropriate. Go Tigers!"
-- Jay Ducote, 26, Baton Rouge, La.

The Usher Says: No problem. "He's fine. As long as he doesn't get ink on me."

Page 2's Take: Hard to fault a fan who even paints his ears. Besides, if there's one thing the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has taught us, it's that body paint is as good as actual clothing.

Verdict: Appropriate, and kinda badass.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 94 percent
Inappropriate: 6 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"I admire the artwork. Very well done. He must have a really nice girlfriend helping him."
-- Sarah Wolcott, 25, Takoma Park, Md.

The Usher Says: No problem. "He has the flag upside down, though."

Page 2's Take: Patriotic sports fan ... or cable news anchor? We report, you decide!

Verdict: Appropriate, and props for such symmetrical stars 'n' stripes.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 88 percent
Inappropriate: 12 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"This look is good ... if you're a guy."
-- Suzanne Igo, 25, Arlington, Va.
"I wouldn't want little kids sitting around looking at her."
-- Lisa Bowman (age and place of residence withheld)
"Some parents might have issues with younger children, but if the [Nationals] had more people like that at the games, they'd probably sell out more often."
-- Will Larsen, 21, Raleigh, N.C.

The Usher Says: Borderline. "She might be showing too much for some fans."

Page 2's Take: She's not showing too much for us. Besides, we've always been friends to the Venezuelan people.

Verdict: Appropriate, and strongly encouraged.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 76 percent
Inappropriate: 24 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"You don't wear a bikini when you're not at the beach."
-- Athina Livanos, 22, Takoma Park, Md.

The Usher Says: Again, borderline. "I don't personally have a problem. But they are blocking the view of the people behind them."

Page 2's Take: Nothing racier than what you'd see in a kickboxing class, assuming we ever took one. Besides, they can always wrap themselves in the flag if anyone complains.

Verdict: Appropriate, but don't forget sunscreen.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 14 percent
Inappropriate: 86 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"Hey, live and let live."
-- Dave (last name and age withheld), Washington
"That's probably in France, right?"
-- Drew Dexter, 22, Peoria, Ill.
"In France? That's appropriate."
-- Doug Avnet, 38, Baltimore

The Usher Says: Inappropriate. "In Europe? That's fine. But here it's a no-no."

Page 2's Take: We hope that isn't poison ivy.

Verdict: Inappropriate, unless it's a Mike Myers skit, in which case it's just tired.


Ballpark Survey Results:
Appropriate: 82 percent
Inappropriate: 18 percent

Ballpark Survey Comments:
"That's disturbing."
-- Chris Orsini, 21, Peoria, Ill.
"That's the creepiest fricking fan thing I've ever seen"
-- Haley Mittler, 27, Washington

The Usher Says: Appropriate: "They just want to support Tiger."

Page 2's Take: We used to think there was nothing scarier than killer clowns. Now we know better.

Verdict: Totally inappropriate outside of a "Cats" audition. Some things seen cannot be unseen.

Photo credits: Associated Press and Getty Images.

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Patrick here.



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