There was a time in the not so distant past; where athletes would come off the court or field and instead of hitting the showers they would head straight for a press conference. There they would sit, all freshly soaked head to toe in sweat, answering question proposed by reporters, with a towel sloppily draped over their shoulder. The portrait of this kind of athlete was gross and disgusting. During these interviews athletes were hard to hear, as they were so immediately out of breath, they had to take a long inhale before and during each question they attempted to answer. Then a simplistic trend emerged. Athlete’s began showering and dressing up before post-game interviews. A crazy innovation, I know, but it gets better. Not only did athletes begin to dress up for these interviews, but they also dressed fashionably.
The sweat soaked towel was replaced with a pocket square; the beat up shoes switched out for wingtips and a torn jersey was traded in for an argyle sweater. While this trend has appeared in all professional sports, the league I will mostly focus on is the NBA. As magnificent as this trend is, one can’t help but wonder how it came about. Was it a mandatory dress code, or optional? If it is a dress code, then what is the exact dress code? Does this kind of display effect a player? A franchise? And is this whole idea of dressing up for post-game interviews not being taken seriously or being taken too seriously that it borders on the edge of satire?
Way back in the year 2005 the NBA handed down a mandate to the players that said during the 2005 – 2006 season a dress code would be enacted. The NBA was attempting to adopt a “business casual” look for all league activities. These activities included post-game interviews, sitting on the bench when not expecting to play and arriving and leaving an arena. So while these league activities demanded that players refrain from wearing, shorts, T-shirts, headphones, medallions and other sorts of uncultured riff-raff, it should be noted the mandate mentioned nothing about travel attire. I bring up this point because while league activities were mandatory and punishable by fine or suspension, some players, such as Dwyane Wade, took to wearing the business casual uniform on the road. This decision of course was completely optional, but soon began a movement of fashionably dressed NBA players. But what kind of impact does dressing fashionable or business casual have on a player, let alone a team?
The Articulate Athlete
The decision to be fashionable in all facets of life is always optional, but it was quite new in the athletic world of jocks and overbearing testosterone. It came as a surprise to many when athletes began wearing the newest trends in fashion and had a large impact on individual athletes as well as entire franchises. For individual athletes, this marked an opportunity to show the world how well read they are through a post-game interview. That is to say, not every NBA star jumped at the chance to be viewed as an articulate human being. Even today we still get the rehearsed line PR coordinators have players autonomously spout, “We gave it a hundred percent, worked as team and we were really prepared to take on the (enter opposing team’s name here).” Not to say that this is a bad thing to respond with, it is simply an unoriginal thought developed in a public speaking class.
More stories you might like