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Penguins admit they photoshopped masks on fans

Justin Cuthbert
·2-min read

A social media staffer with the Pittsburgh Penguins has apparently been disciplined by the organization for making slight adjustments to a photo used to thank fans for their loyalty and support after the doors opened at PPG Paints Arena for spectators for the first time in almost a year earlier this week.

On a wide shot of a section inside the stadium, at least two adjustments were made from an original Getty image in an effort to properly cover the faces of two fans in the building for the Penguins' 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Not everyone at Pittsburgh's first game with fans allowed was adhering to COVID-19 safety measures. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Penguins have acknowledged this image was altered in a post they sent out on Twitter thanking their fans. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The majority of fans in the photo, or a small selection of 2,800 patrons allowed into the arena, were wearing their masks properly.

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The photoshop work was quickly identified on social channels and the Penguins themselves were nudged. In a statement obtained by the New York Post, the Penguins acknowledged the alteration and have "reprimanded" the "perhaps well-intended" person responsible for compromising the image.

“Our social media team should never send out altered photos to our fan base,” the statement read. "This is a violation of our social media and safety policy."

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Details of the punishment are obviously unknown, but it does read a little harsh against the employee that may or may not have went rogue. Clearly the staffer's intentions weren't malicious in any fashion, and that the photoshop was an attempt to spin some positive public relations to the benefit of the club. It's exceedingly difficult to control the mask-wearing practices of thousands of people at one time, obviously, and capturing a flawless moment in the stands at any sporting event that requires mask-wearing will be nearly impossible.

The Penguins say they have implemented a zero-tolerance policy on mask-wearing and has staff monitoring the fans throughout the games.

Inevitably, there will be growing pains as fans flock back into stadiums, however those issues clearly also apply to those responsible for accurately covering their re-entry.

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