There are usually three types of people who take their shirts off at ballparks:
1. The sociopathically violent: You can spot these guys fairly easily. They are built very wiry, usually wear jeans and some form of basketball sneaker, usually by Reebok or New Balance. They'll have tattoo on their forearms that will appear to be done with Indian ink. They'll have facial hair of a 14-year-old Spanish boy, yet appear to be in their mid-30's. These guys are the first to throwdown with the littlest of provocation. These guys will even go as far as to attack an opposing team's first base coach if they're really upset about something.
2. The preening extrovert: These guys are the ones that usually go out of the way to paint letters on their chests beforehand — but not before doing 100 push-ups. Sure, they want to show support for their team (regardless if it's 90 degrees or 45 degrees below zero) but they mostly want to show off their bodies. That's why you'll see them walking through the parking lot an hour after the game with their shirt still slung over their shoulder." I don't want to get paint on my shirt," they'll say. Sure, you do. Why don't you show me how you can do a back-hand spring again there, superstar?
3. The morbidly obese: Sometimes it's just too hot for shirts. They're doing it so they don't pass out from heat exhaustion, ending up rolling down the stairs and carted off to the stadium infirmary for a fresh pump of intravenous fluids. They come to the ballpark with a beach towel to use as a handkerchief and sit in a row that doesn't have a lot of people. (They know they're hideous. Try not to stare.)
Well, the Washington Nationals are putting a stop to all of this male shirtlessness in the stands and have now deemed it indecent. Dan Steinberg even got the Nationals' VP of Marketing on the phone and peppered her with hypothetical shirtless indecencies:
Chartese Burnett today; she first referred me to the team's Guest Code of Conduct, which speaks of creating "a family entertainment environment" and includes the following bullet point: "Obscene or indecent clothing will not detract from the guest experience." ("Displays of affection not appropriate in a public, family setting" are also against the rules, which may or may not limit post-home run bum patting among the players.)
And so we're presented with the following question: Could the sight of a bare, sweaty male chest at Nationals Park be considered obscene or indecent?
"I mean, yeah, I guess," Burnett said. "People are offended if you have pink hair....Certain things are within reason and certain things aren't. The world is made up of all kinds of people. We've got 81 games, twenty-five to thirty thousand people on average out here. I wouldn't be surprised by anything."
So, beware Nats fans — your jiggling man-bags and hairy shoulders may get you tossed out of Nationals Park if you're deemed unpleasant by other fans.
Nats' Confront Indecency [D.C. Sports Bog]