The University of Arizona beat Arizona State University Friday night—but the real battle between the teams was over a controversial Trump-inspired T-shirt about the football rivals.
The T-shirt bore the words “Make Arizona Great Again, Build That Wall,” also depicting a map of Arizona with a border line just north of Tucson (home of UofA), sectioning it off from the rest of the state.
— Make AZ Great Again (@MakeAzGreat) November 26, 2016
The controversial shirt was even featured at a Trump rally in October, just weeks before the election. But it also drew immediate complaints, not just from students but also from the Anti-Defamation League.
“We never want to normalize symbols or slogans that are hateful, and this T-shirt normalizes it, making it casual, making it funny—it’s not,” the ADL’s regional director told Tucson News Now. “It marginalizes vulnerable communities and, in this case, Hispanic immigrants.”
Kyle Kuo, who runs the distribution part of the company that created the shirt, said the ADL had never reached out to him before slamming the design.
“The shirt design was created to play at something that ASU fans have been saying for years: UofA is northern Mexico,” Kuo tells Heat Street. “With President-Elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric, we thought we would play on with what we assumed the country thought was a joke. I suppose it became much more surreal and serious for Hispanic communities when he was elected. This shirt does not target any specific race, nationality, or the like. We have a lot of UofA fans who thought the shirt was funny and satirical and understood it was not ill-intentioned.”
Local coverage of the shirt drew hundreds of comments—most from fans who thought anyone offended by the shirt was overreacting.