With questionable attire "slinking" in at recent Sandusky High School football games, principal Dan Poggiali decided it was time to crack down on body painting at sports events.
Poggiali said school officials spotted some female students in the stands wearing sports bras instead of shirts. The girls had painted letters on their midriffs to spell out "Streaks" when they lined up in the right order.
"We had some issues at some previous games," he said. "It got to the point that we figured we better remind the kids about it. The girls had a good message, but the sports bras are objectionable."
SHS students who were aware of the painted torso rule came down on both sides of the fence.
"It's kind of stupid, because it's done to show school spirit," sophomore Kim Reid said. "But I can understand where they're coming from. You don't want to see girls out there in their sports bras. That can be nasty."
"I don't know why we can't do it," senior Aaron Pool said. "It shows how much school spirit we have at the games."
Painting entire faces can also be a big security issue, Athletic Director Dale Sartor said. Being a Division I school, the population can be compared to the size of a small town, and monitoring who's who can be tough.
"When you have kids painting their whole faces, you don't know who they are," he said.
"I really think it's dumb," student Anna Terenzi said. "The cheerleaders paint faces, and everyone else does it. It shows spirit."
Poggiali said students are allowed to have the team logo on their cheeks, but nothing more.
"We allow them to have a block 'S' with a streak going through it on their cheeks," he said. "The cheerleaders paint a lot of them, but they cannot cover the whole face."
Poggiali said Sandusky is abiding by and enforcing the rules of the Greater Buckeye Conference, which also includes Fremont Ross.
A conference rule written in October 2003 addresses attire at events, Sartor said.
"Rule 11," he said, "says spectators will not be allowed in the stadium -- we also added 'games' -- unless they are wearing shirts."
Click on the photo above to read the actual Greater Buckeye Conference's Sportsmanship Standards.
Sartor said a few boys showed up at the Edison vs. Sandusky soccer game with no shirts and "well-done" painted torsos that actually resembled clothing.
"Let it be known I told them they couldn't come in unless they put some shirts on," he said.
The boys complained, but donned shirts to watch the game.
David Marburger, an attorney specializing in first amendment rights, said the rule could possibly violate the right to free speech.
"That rule to me is questionable, but I don't think you can authoritatively say that the rule would be invalid," he said. "I don't think anyone could say the rule is not valid or valid. It is a highly questionable rule, but you've got the U.S. Supreme Court that is highly deferential to the school and less sensitive to the rights of a student's individuality to express themselves."
Bob Goldring, assistant commissioner for the Ohio High School Athletic Association, said the association has a similar rule requiring shirts and proper attire for indoor events and at all tournament games.
"It's a hot issue," he said. "We have schools implementing their own versions, but we do not have any regulations in place. It's a local school decision."
Tim Smith, a Kent State professor of journalism and expert in media law, said he thinks the rule is absurd.
"If they're wearing sports bras they are dressed legally, so what's the problem?" he asked. "It would be different if they came in bare-topped and painted. As long as they're not being obscene, I don't know what the basis would be."
Many other schools including Bellevue, Perkins and Edison have the same rules but are a little more lenient.
Perkins High School principal Chris Gasteier said students can display face and body paint outdoors, as long as they don't bring it into the school.
"From reading the paper, I know some schools are still allowing it," Poggiali said. "But in our league, it's a rule. If we allowed body painting for football games, we'd have to allow it for basketball games, and we do not want that in our gym."