By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins found themselves under fire after allegedly photoshopping masks onto fans’ faces during the team’s first game in front of fans in nearly a year.READ MORE: Motion To Denounce Bans On Transgender Athletes Fails Before Allegheny County Council
Tuesday night’s game was the first time fans had been allowed back into PPG Paints Arena when they hosted the Philadelphia Flyers.
Mask mandates and limited capacity efforts have been put in place.
But it was a post on Twitter following the game that has social media up in arms.
On Wednesday the team posted a photo of fans in the stands saying, “Thanks for the continued support Penguins fans. We can’t wait to see you tomorrow night.”
We just had to say this again…
Thanks for the continued support, Penguins fans.
We can’t wait to see you tomorrow night. pic.twitter.com/f3KGjhHWR0
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 4, 2021
It didn’t take long for social media sleuths to discover that the photo the Penguins posted may have been manipulated.
— Taylor Haase (@TaylorHaasePGH) March 4, 2021
In the original Getty Images photo, one of the fans wasn’t wearing a mask, and others weren’t wearing them correctly.
The version that the Penguins posted on Twitter showed fans all wearing masks properly.
Fans quickly took to social media upset with the photo manipulation and lack of enforcement of the mask policy.
READ MORE: Allegheny County Police Investigating Shots Fired In North Versailles
Enforce the mask rule instead of altering the photo. Silly.
— CronkiteProject (@bezsylk) March 4, 2021
Do you guys have any way to enforce mask wearing?
— Melinda (@melwedde) March 4, 2021
I see you cropped the woman out that wasn’t wearing a mask …. I wonder why lmao. Quality standards
— jessica (@jcsgreenscreen) March 4, 2021
We're just gonna let the Penguins get away with photoshopping masks onto fans, huh
— Josh (@GoldAndOrSmith) March 4, 2021
The Penguins have released a statement on the controversy saying:
“While perhaps well intended, our staffer should not have altered a wide crowd photo to adjust masks on faces of even a few fans who were not strictly following the rules. Our social media team should never send out altered photos to our fan base. This is a violation of our social media and safety policy, and this staffer has been disciplined.”
Despite all that, at last check, the edited image is still on the Pens’ Twitter. Outside the arena, the team has signs and messages on the door telling everyone to wear a mask.
West View resident Sean Poorman was at the game and in the photo that was edited. He’s in the center of the image wearing a Malkin jersey.
“It felt great to finally be back watching a sporting event,” he said.
Poorman was wearing a mask properly in both photos. He said most people were following the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“I would say most people did a pretty good job. There’s always going to be a few people who aren’t or get distracted,” Poorman said.
Poorman understands why someone might have thought it was a good idea, but that doesn’t make it right.
“It’s the first game back, we want to make sure that everything is solid and there are no hiccups,” Poorman said. “Was it necessary to do? Probably not. The people who didn’t have the masks on could have taken the blame on Twitter.”
Wednesday, Penguins CEO David Morehouse said they were happy to have fans back in the arena and most people were wearing masks.MORE NEWS: Fatal Police Shooting In Ohio Hospital Caught On Officer Body Camera
“I would say 99 percent of the people complied. We had a couple people who had to be told by ushers to put their masks on but not many,” Morehouse said.