NFL, Giants Stadium in Hot Water for Breast-Baring Ritual Among Fans

Giants Stadium management, the National Football League and the New York Jets are in the hot seat over a practice that has become a halftime ritual at Jets games: lewd, drunken male fans shouting at women to expose their breasts.

The men whoop, whistle, chant and stomp for female fans to lift up their shirts and bras, often shouting obscenities in the process. Some women comply with the jeering requests.

When the male spectators don't get their wish, they frequently grow nasty — booing, spitting and throwing beer bottles at the women they're targeting.

The story, which was first reported Tuesday by The New York Times, has caused a public outcry and led the New York Jets to issue a statement about the behavior.

"This type of conduct on one of the stadium spirals is outrageous and unacceptable," said Jets senior vice president of business operations Matt Higgins. "We have spoken with NJSEA [New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority] officials and demanded that they take steps immediately to ensure that it does not happen again."

The NJSEA, which runs operations at Giants Stadium and The Meadowlands complex where it's located, acknowledged that the bawdy ritual has been a problem and said security staff and New Jersey State Police are doing what they can to stop it.

"This is not something new to us in terms of dealing with rowdy fan behavior," NJSEA President and CEO George Zoffinger told "Anybody who uses vulgar language or is intoxicated or acting in an improper manner is either ejected or arrested."

Zoffinger said that for the 2007 football season, eight women were tossed out of Giants Stadium for indecent exposure, seven of them from Jets games and one from a Giants game. So far, he said, a total of 148 people have been thrown out of Jets games and 35 have been arrested for bad behavior, compared to 174 ejections and 44 arrests at Giants games.

But punishing the males for their derogatory cat-calling isn't easy, he contended, partly because of the large number of raucous fans at games and partly because cheering doesn't necessarily warrant disciplinary action if it isn't accompanied by foul language, object-throwing or other behavior that is against the law.

"In a crowd of people chanting, it is extremely difficult to single out a person you would eject or arrest," said Zoffinger. "We crack down as much as we can. If a crowd of 100 is chanting, 'Take off your top!', we try to convince them it's not a good idea. We often get ridiculed for trying to do that. But as abhorrent as it is, I'm not sure it's a crime. ... We can only do so much."

One thing they can do, he said, is nab the women who bare their breasts and the men who pressure them by using obscenities.

"We arrest the women because that's a crime," Zoffinger said. "If [the men] say, 'Show me your f— t—, we can arrest them. If there is bad, vulgar language involved, yes, we do eject them, every single time. ... Boorish behavior will not be tolerated."

The problem isn't at the top of the list of security concerns at The Meadowlands, which handles 2 million visitors a year — the most of any sports arena in the United States, according to Zoffinger.

"We run one of the safest stadiums in the country," he said. "As abhorrent as this behavior is, it does not pose a safety and security issue. I don't think the security staff looks the other way. If we see anybody, we immediately take them into custody."

Zoffinger said he's looking into beefing up security at the stadium during Jets games in an effort to control the incidents.

The NFL didn't return calls from seeking comment. New Jersey State Police, who patrol the Giants Stadium games with the Meadowlands staff, didn't directly address the Jets games ritual, but said troopers deal with legal infractions when they occur.

"We enforce the laws, and that's our responsibility," said state police spokeswoman Jeanne Hengemuhle. "If we see the law being broken, we act accordingly."

Amateur videos of men harassing women in the Gate D section of the stadium during Jets games and women responding by exposing their breasts initially appeared on YouTube, but by Tuesday afternoon they'd been removed from the site.

Feminist writer Naomi Wolf lambasted the "Girls Gone Wild" types of stadium shenanigans as "barbaric" and "reprehensible," and said the practice could lead to sexual violence.

"This is a sign of the degradation of public morality in America," the "Beauty Myth" author fumed during a FOX News Channel panel discussion. "I don’t want my daughter to be exposed to this."

The practice is apparently mostly limited to Jets home games at Giants Stadium. Insiders say they aren't aware of it happening at Giants games.

"The NJSEA has assured us that they will address this conduct at all Meadowlands events," said the Jets' Higgins. "We will not allow a small minority of people to ruin the experience for our fans and will be monitoring the situation."

The NFL is no stranger to the problem of public breast-baring, thanks to the very famous and very costly "wardrobe malfunction" halftime number by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake during the 2004 Super Bowl on CBS.

"Football is about one thing — it’s about testosterone," said Steve Mason of 710 ESPN Radio. "This isn't especially shocking. I don’t think you want to bring the kids to Gate D any time soon."

Click here to read The New York Times report.