Cubby Tees Pulls Controversial 'Chicago Stronger' Shirts and Answers Critics

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterJune 14, 2013

A sports apparel company pulled its "Chicago Stronger" shirts and released a lengthy response to fans outraged over them.

Yahoo! Sports reports on an ongoing debate over a sports slogan that followed the Boston Marathon bombing tragedy, and one that now sees Chicago-based sports apparel company Cubby Tees taking a great deal of Internet vitriol for this particular shirt: 

As you might recall, many in Boston began sporting shirts and signs that had "Boston Strong" emblazoned over the front, a motto that served to build support and camaraderie for a city shaken by senseless acts of violence. 

Unfortunately, fans outside the Boston area took that sentiment and decided to use it for their own sports slogans. Yahoo! Sports, MassLive and many others reference the following image of a Toronto Maple Leafs fan holding a sign that read "Toronto Stronger."

Cubby Tees decided to adopt a similar slogan with its Chicago Blackhawks T-shirt, which was met with an outpouring of disgust from Twitter users. 

Boston Sports Then and Now has a sampling of tweets that were launched at the company. 

Cubby Tees ended up pulling the shirts from its website, but the story doesn't end there. 

Before we continue, we give you the description that Yahoo! Sports states accompanied the website's post for the T-shirt. 

Cubby Tees now has a lengthy response to all those who took umbrage with its "Chicago Stronger" T-shirts. 

Here is but a sample: 

We wish that more had read the description for the “Chicago Stronger” shirt (or that we had more fully expessed it), but that might have let facts/intent get in the way of a good new-fashioned Twitter-lynching and the intertube's click-generating outrage machine that brought you here. [Congratulations, you just provided $.10 in revenue for someone else profiting from the anger that their headlline instilled in you.] Alas, you'll find no hate here.


Anyone who believes that the shirt mocked those injured in the horrible events of Patriots’ Day regrettably missed our point and did not read/process our accompanying commentary; nowhere on the shirt’s face (or within its subtext or motivation) did we take aim at the victims or make light of the incident -- nor would we ever. The design poked fun at the embarrassing self-congratulatory branding of the tragedy, and its inappropriate adoption by SOME BOSTON FANS AS A MINIMIZING SPORTS ANTHEM, not the sad reality of that day’s mayhem.

It's at this point that we have to note Cubby Tees is attempting to make a statement against any fan, those in Boston included, who have taken tragedy and rolled it over into a sports anthem. 

It's that sentiment that Yahoo! Sports' Greg Wyshynski touches upon with, "Because they (Cubby Tees) weren’t making light of the tragedy’s most recognizable slogan, but rather – and completely ironically, we imagine – those who seek to profit from it."

At the heart of the Cubby Tees argument seems to be that a motto that was meant to build camaraderie evolved into a "frat boy" chant, and one marked for profit. 

I encourage any to read the entire response and fashion your own opinion on the matter. I just don't see the need to make a statement in the form of a shirt that can be misconstrued just as easily as it can be purchased (Cubby Tees has vowed to donate proceeds to a Chicago organization to be named later). 

The sad part is that we have taken a beautiful phrase and sullied it with profit and fan loyalty; both of which are completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things. 

If that weren't enough, Chris Chase of USA Today reports The Chicago Tribune fashioned the following image for its "Hawkeytown" section.

It is a direct reference to its previous page that illustrated great support for the Boston area and its sports fans. 

There are plenty of great ways to rile your own fanbase during a playoff series, but this is not one of them—essentially ruining what was a great sentiment while also reminding others of a horrible tragedy. 

If you have an issue with Boston fans using the term "Boston Strong" in a misguided light, you are entitled to your opinion. 

I just don't think this is a fight that needs fighting, especially with shirts that are seen as a slap in the face of Boston fans, despite the company stating that is not its intent.

Many still rally behind the phrase to lift spirits that were destroyed on that fateful day. That's more than enough for me to let Boston fans wear what they like. 


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