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Provocative signs at Yale game raise questions about permissible fan behavior

As Princeton scored points, fans lost signs

People dressed in orange and holding signs stand on crowded bleachers.
The student section at the Princeton vs. Yale game on Feb. 17
Photo courtesy of Princeton Men's Basketball

In front of a screaming crowd at Jadwin Gymnasium on Saturday, Feb. 17, Yale star forward Danny Wolf missed close shot after close shot. Not far behind him, a Princeton fan held a sign that read: “I have scored as many points as D. Wolf.” 

The sign proved to be a prophecy for Wolf’s performance, as the same player who took Princeton for 21 points in their last matchup failed to score a single point this game — though, he did turn over the ball twice.


The signs and spirit from the Princeton student section seemed to frequently frustrate Yale as Princeton marched to a 73–62 victory, less than a month after the same matchup had the opposite result. With that, Princeton men’s basketball has rode the home crowd to a perfect 10–0 record at home this season.

The game, a rivalry matchup, was packed. The crowd showed their enthusiasm with cheers, as well as a sea of signs in the student section, crafted at the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) pre-game event. Many of the signs made by students, however, never made it into the stands or were confiscated while in use.

One notable sign that was seized read “Danny Wolf gets no bitches.”

Stacey Bunting, senior associate director of athletics, told The Daily Princetonian that their “events team did, in fact, remove some signs from the stands that were considered offensive in nature.” Bunting explained that the signs that were taken had “expletive language involved.” 

According to Bunting, the signs deemed objectionable enough to be taken away were brought to event staff’s attention by one of the parents of a player on the court.


The Princeton Stadium Visitor’s Guide, as well as the identical one published for Jadwin Gym, details the athletic department’s policy on banners, signs, and flags, reserving “the right to remove these items from possession if deemed inappropriate” by event staff. The policy states that signs must be “in good taste and not offensive in any nature” but does not clarify what language is prohibited any further.

Two of the signs taken away in the hands of event staff read: “Dick Cheney went to Yale,” in reference to the former vice president of the United States, and “Gilmore Girls fucking sucks,” in reference to the popular comedy-drama series whose protagonist attends Yale.

Jupiter Ding ’24 was in the student section as signs were being taken away. Ding told the ‘Prince’ that one poster called a player on the opposing team “an idiot” in Hebrew. The sign included a similar phrase in English on the other side. Event staff attempted to confiscate this sign as well.

While the shenanigans played out on the sidelines, the game was fiery on the court. Just 45 seconds into the game, starting sophomore forward Caden Pierce took a dive onto the hardwood after the ball, busting open his chin and starting the game off with stitches. 

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Despite the rocky beginning, the atmosphere remained positively charged. 

Senior guard Matt Allocco said in an interview with the ‘Prince’ that the atmosphere at the game was not hindered by any signs or the removal of them. According to Allocco, “it’s always a treat to play in front of a big crowd like that. You kind of feed off that energy. I think [the crowd] really helped us.” 

Allocco said that most fan behavior does not make it to the court in any manner interpretable for a player. He explained that he can never hear “exactly what [the crowd] is saying, but [he] can hear their noise.”

Pierce said in an interview with the ‘Prince’ that he does not notice signs when he is playing. He added, “When I’m on the bench, I’ll do a scan, but I’m not really looking specifically for a sign.”

He said that he just “admired the amount of people that were there” on Saturday night. 

The Yale Daily News reported on Sunday that “Princeton’s fans packed the bleachers in their home gym … As the game progressed, fans began to cheer sarcastically when Wolf, scoreless on the night, touched the ball on offense.”

The removal of signs from the student section added to an already rowdy environment.

The signs in question were made at the USG event prior to the game. The USG Weekly Newsletter sent to the student body on Feb. 15 encouraged students to “come by to show [their] school spirit with face-painting, sign-making, and hairspray stations.” 

USG President Avi Attar ’25 told the ‘Prince’ that in conjunction with the Athletics Department and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, he “hoped that USG was able to provide a welcoming and fun environment for students to show their support team.” 

As for the sign-making portion of the event, Attar explained that USG does “not post rules about sign-making” and did not on Saturday. 

Saturday was not the first time there has been a USG-sanctioned sign-making event. When the men’s football team faced off against Yale on Nov. 11, there were also signs that poked fun at the Bulldogs with quips about topics from Rory Gilmore to the U.S. News and World Report rankings. However, no confiscated signs were reported following the game. 

ESPN, the broadcast network for Saturday’s home game against Yale, has their own set of standards for fan signs that can be shown on television. According to the ESPN Gameday Guidelines, “No vulgar signs, .com, .net, .org, political or religious signs are allowed. For fans entering the pit, signs cannot be on poles or oversized.” 

Ding said that he did not think the student section experience was too negatively affected by the confiscations. Ding said, “We still had solid energy even after the signs were taken away. There were still a few signs around, and we were still coming up with chants and cheering on the team.”

Tate Hutchins is an associate Sports editor for the ‘Prince.’

Hallie Graham is a News contributor for the ‘Prince.’

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