Athletic Dress Code: The Impact of a Well Dressed Athlete

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?

Mandatory Style

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.

But I digress; this dress code gave athletes an outlet to be taken seriously by way of their dress and style.Athletes began wearing glasses and ties to post-game interviews that conveyed a sense of intelligence. This even led to some NBA stars frequenting fashion-centric magazines such as Esquire and GQ. Simultaneously, the well-dressed individual athlete had an impact on their entire franchise. Teams that dressed well together were viewed in a more positive light. They became relatable and respectable as a team by keeping up with appearances and overall positively influencing the public perception of a franchise as a whole. Another point raised on the topic of fashion in athletic world is the question of whether it is being taken too far or not far enough.
Satire Over Style
imagesThe idea of the well-dressed athlete is a forward way of thinking for professional sports entirety, but some athletes may have taken the idea itself too far or not seriously at all. It is understandable many NBA athletes use the dress code as a means to impress, but when does it become over the top and, in essence, a satire of itself? Don’t get me wrong, I love it when an athlete is dressed in a finely fitting sweater and pressed slacks but some accessories seem out of place. There are quite a few athletes that are guilty of the hipster glasses trend that is way too popular for its own good right now. As someone who needs to wear glasses, I find it gaudy when athletes (or anybody for that matter) wears non-prescription glasses to emanate a sense of undeserved intelligence. Not only does it look ridiculous, but also what athletes fail to comprehend is in the audaciousness of wearing said glasses they have transformed the dress code and themselves into the butt of a satirical joke.
Then there are athletes that don’t take the dress code seriously at all and end up exuding ignorance. I’mIFWT-MichaelVick-Socks-Suit-Coat talking about the athletes that dress in a post-game interview outfit I like to call the “mullet.” This outfit has the upper body draped in business casual or business professional attire while the lower body dons athletic shorts or sweat-pants. The lower body is cleverly hidden by the podium or table that the interview is being conducted at, leaving the audience in blissful ignorance of the comfort of their nether-regions. This emits the illusion that the athlete is dressed in a professional way when in reality it is all business up top and a party on the bottom, fashionably speaking. There is no doubt what the NBA and all other professional sports leagues are doing with a dress code that is overall a positive transition. Like any other company, the NBA desires a look of professionalism that can only be brought about by way of dress. This is indeed a commendable change that can only be built upon for the better, but for athletes that refuse to take their matter of fashion seriously as well as the athletes that can’t help but take it too far, I beg of you, try and find a healthy medium, if not for your sake than your teams

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